Late goals kill a team's momentum.
That was the case at Joe Louis Arena on Saturday night, as No. 1 Michigan scored with 35 seconds left in the second period to take a 4-2 lead over No. 6 Michigan State heading into the third.
Michigan dominated play in the first period and led 3-0, but Michigan State roared back with two goals in the second, putting the Wolverines on their heels with heavy offensive pressure.
But it was a missed opportunity that cost the Spartans.
After MSU missed a golden opportunity to tie the game a few minutes after Tim Kennedy scored the second goal, Michigan would strike back with a painful counterpunch.
The Wolverines would pepper goalie Jeff Lerg in the final minutes of the second period, cycling the puck and playing keep away from the Spartans.
Eventually Max Pacioretty tipped a slap-shot from the point over Lerg's glove with 35 seconds left in the period and Michigan had a two-goal after two.
After having the Wolverines on their heels and controlling play for most of the period, MSU hard work was crushed by Pacioretty's late-second goal.
The Wolverines played a defensive third period and didn't allow the Spartans to get any odd-man rushes or pressure in front of goalie Billy Sauer.
The only third period goal was an empty-net tally by Michigan, giving the teams yet another split weekend.
It didn't take long for Michigan to answer back after a 5-2 loss to Michigan State the night before.
Just six minutes into the first period, Tim Miller's first goal of the season opened the scoring for the Wolverines, in what would turn into an ugly period for the Spartans.
Costly mistakes in their own end and foolish penalties gave the Wolverines two more goals before the period's end.
A miscommunication between the MSU defensemen allowed the puck to squirt loose in front of the net, landing right on Aaron Palushaj's stick at point-blank range. Goalie Jeff Lerg had no chance as he was surprised by the play.
With under two minutes left in the period, Justin Abdelkader was called for roughing the goaltender, which resulted in another goal, as Michigan led after one 3-0.
But just when everything was going wrong for MSU, the tables were flipped for the second period.
Chris Mueller scored for MSU and suddenly the Spartans had life. A power-play goal by Tim Kennedy cut the lead to just a single goal, as the Wolverines were on their heels.
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