If Friday night's loss to Northern Michigan was what Red Berenson needed to get his point across on special teams, consider the note taken. An improved power play and penalty kill carried the Wolverines to victory Saturday night at Yost Ice Arena.
On their first power play of the night Michigan showed a dramatic improvement from last nights performance. A high sticking penalty on NMU provided the opportunity for Michigan captain Eric Nystrom who cut into the slot while taking a pass from Andrew Ebbett who was camped behind the net. A quick shot over the shoulder of Wildcat goalie Tuomas Tarkki made the score 1-0 at 4:24.
Seven minutes later at 11:28, the Wolverines struck again on their second power play chance.
T.J. Hensick circled the puck for the Wolverines until a passing alley opened up into the slot for Milan Gajic. Gajic poked the puck the rest of the way through the slot to Kevin Porter who added his eighth goal of the season on a quick one timer that beat Tarkki.
The two teams combined for 14 shots in the second period of play but nobody was able to light the scoring lamp as both teams stepped up their defense in the second period.
Michigan's final goal of the contest would come from Gajic at 2:33 of the final period, capitalizing on a three-on-two rush and a good feed from Jason Ryznar. Ryznar carried the puck in across the Wildcat blue line and flipped a pass to Gajic who was trailing the play on the right hand side. Gajic wound up and blasted from just inside the circle and the puck found the back of the net, beating Tarkki to his glove side.
Northern Michigan would finally beat Montoya, who had shut down numerous scoring opportunities early in the period, at 11:54 on a shot from outside the circle after a Wildcat face off win.
NMU would continue to try and cut into the lead but Montoya was up to the challenge making a point blank save on a blast from in the slot to help kill off a Wildcat 5-on-3 power play.
Neither team would score again.
The win improves the Wolverines record to 17-3-0 in the CCHA and helps Michigan maintain a three point lead over second place Ohio State in the conference standings.
Next weekend the Wolverines look to renew their rivalry with cross state enemy Michigan State. The first game will be played at Yost Ice Arena and the final regular season game between the rivals will be played Saturday at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit.
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