Penn State has spent most of the past season and a half trying to get back to its identity.
There’s been glimpses during that time, but for the most part, the Nittany Lions haven’t been able to sustain the dynamic offense they’d become so accustomed to, and the results have reflected that.
Saturday showed another one of those glimpses. It also showed another one of those disappointing results.
The Nittany Lions (10-7-0, 2-6-0 Big Ten) fell a goal short in a furious comeback bid against Michigan State, losing 4-3 to the Spartans (9-6-1, 4-4-0).
Goals By Period
The Nittany Lions threw everything they could at Pierce Charleson, but the Spartans goalie had one of those career nights that goalies have when facing Penn State.
Charleson made 50 saves on 53 shots, with 20 of those coming in the third period.
His counterpart, Oskar Autio, was solid in his own right with 25 saves on 29 shots, but the Spartans were more opportunistic than the Nittany Lions, particularly on special teams.
A night after Penn State won the special teams battle, Michigan State returned the favor. The Spartans penalty kill went 4-for-4, while Mitchell Lewandowski netted the lone power play goal of the game early in the third period to help guide the Spartans to victory.
How It Happened
Early in the first period, Jeremy Davidson opened the scoring for the Spartans, collecting a loose puck in the slot and firing a shot past Oskar Autio.
A few minutes later, Chase McLane responded for the Nittany Lions. As he started to drive around the net, McLane threw a backhand shot from a sharp angle that caught Pierce Charleson off guard.
With just under four minutes remaining in the opening frame, the Spartans regained the lead. With the puck in the corner, Dennis Cesana jumped in from the point to take a back door feed, lifting a backhand shot past Autio.
Midway through the second period, Connor MacEachern brought the game even once again. After collecting the puck behind the Spartans net, MacEachern was stopped on a wraparound attempt. He followed up his own rebound and beat Charleson high on the blocker side.
Early in the third period, Mitchell Lewandowski put the Spartans in front once again. With his team on the power play, Lewandowski picked up his third point of the evening with a back door tap in.
A little more than two minutes later, the Spartans doubled their lead. Kristof Papp found some open ice on the weak side of the offensive zone and beat Autio short side past the blocker.
Just a couple minutes later, Carson Dyck pulled the Nittany Lions back within a goal. Dyck jumped on the rebound of Tyler Paquette’s long-range shot and fired a quick one past Charleson.