Penn State let off the accelerator a couple of times and it was enough for the home-skating Spartans to convert into a win. It was a very well-played game on both sides. A split series for the Lions would not be the end of the world, so game two is a chance to hold serve.
Two critical turnovers in the defensive zone cost Penn State, as they led to two goals that the goalie had no chance to stop.
Evan Barratt left the game midway through the first period and did not return. The injury appeared to be to his upper-body but it was not clear following the game. Let’s hope that it’s nothing serious.
The teams will play game two of the series on Saturday night at 7 p.m.
How it Happened
The Lions got a power-play in the opening minute but were unable to score. Shortly after two Penn State players were sent to the box and MSU skated 5 on 3. It only took a minute for the Spartans to make it count, as Patrick Khodorenko put one past Peyton Jones.
With 14:20 to play in the opening period, the Lions went on the power-play again. Nikita Pavlychev tied the game on a workmanlike goal off a rebound in front of goalie John Lethemon. Denis Smirnov put a shot on net that Lethemon could not hold on to and Pavlychev was there for his 13th of the season.
The score quieted what had been a raucous crowd inside Munn Arena. After the goal, the We Are chant could be heard on the audio broadcast, along with Hey Goalie, I Want To Know, both familiar chants inside the Peg. Some members of the Roar Zone made the trip from State College.
The Spartans took another lead with five minutes to go before the first intermission. A turnover by Nate Sucese led to the goal. Michigan State had a couple of chances to score in the final minute of the period but the Lions held on.
Penn State came out on fire for the second period, gaining several scoring chances, but it was Michigan State that scored first. Tommy Miller scored on the first Spartan shot of the period for a 3-1 lead. Midway through the period the score got out to 4-1. Oskar Autio came in at goalie for Peyton Jones, who played well but let in four goals.
A horrible turnover in front of Autio gave the Spartans a point-blank shot and a 5-1 lead. After the play the Lions went on a power-play and Ludvig Larsson put a rebound in to cut the lead to 5-2 with nine minutes to play before the second intermission.
Sam Sternschein scored from a near impossible angle with two minutes to play in the second period and it was 5-3. Denis Smirnov nearly scored on the next shift to cut the lead in half.
Here’s a look at the goal by Sternschein.
Here's a look at the goal by Sternschein, slowed down and at real speed. pic.twitter.com/EMwqiYgtaI— Black Shoe Diaries (@BSDtweet) February 16, 2019
With 13:07 left to go in the game Penn State went on a power-play. The Lions nearly scored a few times but were turned back. The teams skated evenly for the next ten minutes, with both sides coming close to adding a goal.