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Penn State Hockey: Shootout Loss To Wisconsin Sets Up Straightforward Final Six Games

by on January 27, 2018 11:30 PM

The most important point is that Penn State fell 5-4 in a shootout Saturday night after taking a 3-1 lead into the final period of play.

For the second straight night Wisconsin came flying out of the gates in the final period, scoring three goals to eventually tie the game at 4-4, sending it to overtime.

Prior to that Penn State scored first as Denis Smirnov picked up his second of three goal in the weekend series to give Penn State a 1-0 lead. A penalty shot goal by Brandon Biro pushed that lead to 2-0 midway through the second period.

But good bounces and tenacious offense allowed Wisconsin to hang around in the game scoring once in the second period to keep it a two goal game, then again early in the third period to cut it to one. Smirnov would answer moments later, but it would prove to be the only goal for Penn State in the third period, Wisconsin would eventually tie the game with over two minutes to play in regulation.

For Penn State the results sets up a fairly cut and dry final six games. The Nittany Lions sit in a three-team tie for fourth place, the top four seeds playing at home in the Big Ten Tournament. Perhaps more importantly Penn State is currently ranked precariously at No.15 in the PairWise rankings, making any missteps twice as hard to make up for on the NCAA bubble.

The good news for fans, Penn State's final six games feature a host of resume boosting chances. This upcoming weekend will include hosting No. 1 Notre Dame before traveling to Michigan State. The regular season will finish out with a home series against Minnesota before the Big Ten Tournament.

So Penn State is far from out of the postseason equation, but it stands to reason that the Nittany Lions will have to win, and do it sooner rather than later to punch their ticket. And even as Peyton Jones made 32 saves on Saturday night, Penn State will need its best defense and most lethal offense to get the job done.

Penn State is now 13-11-4 on the year and 6-8-4-2 in Big Ten play. Five of the Nittany Lions final six games will be carried on the Big Ten Network. Three of which at Pegula Ice Arena.

Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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