It was a playoff atmosphere in South Bend on Friday night.
Penn State (18-13-2) took 3-goal lead in the second period but could not hold on in the first game of a critical series on the road with Notre Dame (18-12-3).
The loss ends any hope of gaining an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament for the Lions. If Michigan loses to Wisconsin and the Lions win on Saturday, Penn State will host a first round series in the Big Ten tournament.
Otherwise, Penn State will have to go on the road in search of a second automatic bid to the NCAA tournament in three years by winning the Big Ten title.
The teams will square off at 7 p.m. on Saturday night for the final game of the regular-season.
How It Happened
Peyton Jones had 8 saves in the first 8 minutes as Notre Dame came out with control of the ice. A Nikita Pavlychev tripping penalty was the first advantage of the day but the Lions were able to kill it off. With 6:30 left in the opening period, Jake Pivonka got a wrist shot past Jones.
Following the goal the referees reviewed it to determine whether the play was offside. After the review, the goal stood. Guy Gadowsky threw a fit from the Penn State bench and the referees went back and reviewed the play once more to check whether there were too many men on the ice for Notre Dame. After the second review the goal was overturned.
The decision sucked the life out of the home stadium for the Irish. Following the goal, then the first review, the place was rocking. After a 5-minute lull in the action, the stadium was quiet. It allowed the Lions to dodge what could have been a burst of momentum.
Denis Smirnov scored a couple of minutes later to give the Lions a 1-0 lead. The play was made by a long toe-drag by Ludvig Larsson, who got a shot off the toe of Cale Morris. Smirnov put the rebound in for his third goal in three games.
Here is the goal by Smirnov. pic.twitter.com/k7WkFM0b3e— Black Shoe Diaries (@BSDtweet) March 2, 2019
The teams combined for 27 shots on goal in the first period, with Notre Dame getting 14 and Penn State 13.
Just seconds into the second period Evan Barratt was credited with a goal that was knocked in by Cal Morris. The goal was later given to Liam Folkes, his 14th of the season.
Here is the second goal of the game, credited to Evan Barratt. pic.twitter.com/mYGs4pZJJp— Black Shoe Diaries (@BSDtweet) March 2, 2019
Penn State kept the heat on the Fighting Irish and Peyton Jones made a few key saves along the way. A couple minutes later Nate Sucese finished a rebound off the stick of Cole Hults to stretch the lead out to 3-0.
Here is the goal by Nate Sucese to give the Lions a 3-0 second period lead in South Bend! pic.twitter.com/A0yASOHXKS— Black Shoe Diaries (@BSDtweet) March 2, 2019
To the credit of the Fighting Irish, the deficit did not break their will. After a timeout, Notre Dame came back with a vengeance, forcing the Lions to take a penalty. Shortly after, a goal by Matt Hellickson cut the lead to 3-1.
Midway through the period and game, the teams took matching penalties and skated 4 on 4.
Brandon Biro took a loose puck and then went straight to the net for the fourth goal of the game for the Lions. A Notre Dame defenseman was limping in front of the net following a blocked shot, and Biro went right at him.
Here is the goal by Brandon Biro. pic.twitter.com/H9lDrvy0cM— Black Shoe Diaries (@BSDtweet) March 2, 2019
Once again Notre Dame answered back, scoring less than two minutes later to bring the lead back to 4-2. That was the score heading into the second intermission.
The Fighting Irish scored early in the third period on a hard-fought goal in front of Peyton Jones. The teams went back and forth for the next ten minutes and then Notre Dame scored to tie the game 4-4 midway through the final period.
In the final minute of the game Nikita Pavlychev took a penalty that gave Notre Dame a chance with an extra skater. The hit was high, but Pavlychev is 6-foot-8 and did not have high elbows or leave his feet. It was a tough penalty and the referees reviewed to see whether he would get more than 2 minutes for the play. They gave him a 5 minute penalty, essentially the rest of the game and overtime.
Here is a look at the hit.
Here is a look at the hit by Nikita Pavlychev that led to the Notre Dame power-play goal. It is a tough call to get 2 minutes for that, but to get 5 and then have to miss a game? It was a costly call against the Lions. pic.twitter.com/m8GoLmgx6C— Black Shoe Diaries (@BSDtweet) March 2, 2019
The Lions made it to overtime and had to face at least four minutes of short-handed time. It only took a minute for the game, and Penn State’s hopes of gaining an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament, to end. Notre Dame scored on a scrum in front of the net for the 5-4 win.