By Karl Henkel/MiCHO Staff Writer
DETROIT - It's been quite a down season for the Michigan State Spartans, even more so because they had lost three straight games to rival Michigan heading into Friday's showdown at Joe Louis Arena.
Make that four in a row now.
The Wolverines trounced the Spartans, 6-2, to win their eighth straight game at the home of the Detroit Red Wings.
"We're glad we got the win, it's a big win," Michigan coach Red Berenson said. "But as a coach, you feel like you've got to do a lot of things better."
UM got the scoring started just over five minutes into the contest when Matt Rust (pictured) tipped an Aaron Palushaj wrist shot past MSU netminder Jeff Lerg.
The remainder of the opening frame was otherwise pedestrian, with the exception of MSU's one-and-only power play.
The Wolverines had two odd-man rushes and kept the puck deep in Michigan State territory for the first half of the man advantage, but the Spartans came back with multiple scoring opportunities in the latter half.
In the second period, it didn't take much time - exactly a minute, in fact - for the Spartans to knot the score. Tim Buttery's slap shot from between the circles hit nothing but the back of the net. It was Buttery's first career goal.
Just a couple of minutes later, however, a sliding Danny Fardig was able to sneak the puck past a sprawling Lerg.
The Spartans (7-15-3, 4-11-2-2 CCHA), not to be outdone, were within an inch of tying the score, but Michigan's Tristin Llewellyn cleared the puck as it sat at the juncture of the of the goal line and post.
Like so many other times this season, MSU drew the short end of the straw, as UM raced back the other way and Carl Hagelin tallied an unassisted goal at the 5:53 mark.
"That's the way hockey is," Berenson said. "You get a scoring chance, you don't score and then the other team scores."
Michigan continued to pour it on in the third, starting with Louie Caporusso's marker 1:43 in.
Goaltender Bryan Hogan was brilliant as well, successfully poke-checking a breakaway attempt away from MSU's Dustin Gazley.
Michigan (17-8-0, 11-6-0-0 CCHA) appeared to add a fifth goal at 4:41, but it was waved off after Travis Turnbull knocked it in with a high stick.
Gazley ended up with his second breakaway chance of the period and this time he made it count, feathering it through Hogan at 13:49. Kurt Kivisto picked up the lone assist.
Again the Wolverines came back, this time 19 seconds later as David Wohlberg backhanded a shot top-shelf after a pass from Caporusso.
"I thought we played pretty well for 40 minutes," Michigan State coach Rick Comley said. "They (Michigan) are a good team. They work hard and we lost it there at the end, but we played much better for much longer."
To add insult to injury, Caporusso added a sixth and final goal for Michigan with just over three minutes to play.
"I can't put a finger on it," Caporusso said of the Michigan offense, which was stagnant last weekend against Bowling Green. "I think it's just getting more pucks to the net, getting more shots.
"'Lergie' is the type of goalie that you have to get a lot of shots on if you want to win."
Lerg finished with 30 saves for MSU and Hogan had 22 for UM.
The Wolverines are now 15-0 when scoring four or more goals in a game this season.
UM and MSU will play again on Saturday night at Yost Ice Arena beginning at 7:35 p.m.
Photo by UM Photo Services