By Karl Henkel/At the Joe
Detroit -- Michigan couldn’t have asked for a better start, but the Spartans — much like they have all season — continued to control the Wolverines. That is, until Michigan mounted a third-period mini-comeback of its own.
MSU overcame a three-goal first-period deficit to lead Michigan late in the third period, but the Wolverines snapped a three-game losing streak to their in-state rivals in a 5-4 victory Saturday night at Joe Louis Arena.
“The difference between the teams is not 4-0,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said. “This was the first game ever (this season) we had a lead. We didn’t play as well as we should have, but they’re a good team and we’re a good team.”
Chris Brown’s goal from the doorstep of Michigan State’s net with 2:07 to play capped the back-and-forth scoring.
“It was just hard work,” Brown said. “It’s something we needed to beat a team like Michigan State.”
The Wolverines, who outshot the Spartans 35-27, made it look easy as they got out to an early 3-0 and held a 16-2 advantage in scoring chances through one period of play. Goals by A.J. Treais, Chris Summers and Brian Lebler aided Michigan’s effort.
But two Michigan State second-period goals — off the sticks of Andrew Rowe and Brett Perlini — closed the gap.
Then in the third, after Jeff Petry tied the game with a power-play goal, Dean Chelios (pictured below) stuffed a wrap-around attempt past Michigan netminder Brian Hogan for a 4-3 advantage.
Matt Rust’s goal with fewer than five minutes to play tied the score again. Rust’s marker was the second shorthanded goal of the game. Rowe scored the other early in the second period.
“It’s disappointing when you give up a shorthanded goal, but exhilarating when you score one,” Berenson said.
With less than two minutes later Brown poked a shot past MSU goalie Drew Palmisano for the winning tally.
Michigan State coach Rick Comley was none too pleased with the way his team gave away the game after rallying from a poor start.
“It was a hard-fought game,” Comley said. “We expected Michigan to come out and play hard. We hung around and hung around and were in a position to win the game.
"When you've got a lead late, you'd like to be able to hold it."
Brown said it was important for the Wolverines to beat the Spartans at least once this season prior to tournament time.
“It’s really gonna boost our confidence going into next week,” he said.
Michigan State (17-9-4, 12-6-4-1 CCHA) next plays twice at Alaska, while Michigan (15-12-1, 10-9-1-0 CCHA) faces Bowling Green in a single game.
Photo by Karl Henkel/MiCHO