Penn State Hockey: Nittany Lions Beat Michigan State 5-3 For Series Split
Penn State will need help and hot finish to make the postseason for a third-straight season but the Nittany Lions took positive step forward on Saturday night with a 5-3 victory over Michigan State in East Lansing.
The news comes with a bit of a caveat, Penn State without star forward Evan Barratt who met two periods on Friday night following injury and was scratched from Saturday night's contest.
Brandon Biro's snipe from the right wing opened the scoring 4:11 into the game but Michigan State responded six minutes later to tie the game. Ludvig Larsson gave Penn State the lead once again with seven minutes to go in the opening period.
Cody Milan tied the game 5:06 into the second period but goals from Paul DeNaples (his first career goal) and Kris Myllari gave the Nittany Lions a 4-2 lead heading into the final frame.
Michigan State made it a one-goal game with six minutes to go, but Nate Sucese's empty-net tally staved off any potential game-tying goal in the final seconds. Peyton Jones made 27-saves in the winning effort including a few of the highlight-reel variety.
Penn State improves to 17-11-2 on the year and sits at No. 18 in the PairWise rankings with four games to go in the regular season. The Nittany Lions will host Wisconsin next weekend before closing out the regular season slate at Notre Dame. Puck drop this coming weekend will be at 6:30 on Friday and 7:00 PM on Saturday night.
Overall the Nittany Lions sit in a precious position when it comes to the postseason, neither out of the hunt or in a comfortable position to make it. The message is simple in the coming weeks, win and win as often as possible.
With four games to go and at least two in the Big Ten Tournament, it remains to be seen if there is enough time for yet another late-season push.