Icer's Explode in First; Win 5-2.

The No. 1-ranked Michigan ice hockey team knocked off No. 6 Michigan State by the score of 5-2 on Saturday night at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. The Wolverines got a pair of goals from Tim Miller, and a goal apiece from Aaron Palushaj, Brandon Naurato, and Max Pacioretty. Billy Sauer recorded the win for Michigan, who is now 26-4-4.

DETROIT -- In the series opening game last night, the top-ranked Wolverines out shot the No. 6 Michigan State Spartans 14-3 in the first period. It didn't matter. After 20 minutes, the Wolverines trailed 2-0 on the scoreboard. This time around they made amends.

In the first period at Joe Louis Arena, the Wolverines peppered Michigan State goalie Jeff Lerg with 17 shots, three of them going for goals, as the Maize and Blue forced a weekend split with the Spartans with a 5-2 win in front of just under 20,000 fans at Joe Louis Arena on Saturday night.

Tim Miller, Aaron Palushaj and Brandon Naurato each netted goals in the pivotal first period for Michigan, all three coming on shots from just off the left post.

"I think the team was disappointed from last night and the way the game went. They realized they had to play a lot better at the start of the game," said Michigan coach Red Berenson.

They did.

Tim Miller opened the scoring at 5:20 with his first goal of the season. Miller grabbed a rebound on Chris Summers shot and lifted it over Lerg and into the net to give Michigan the games first goal.

Not long after, Palushaj made it 2-0. Pressure by Carl Hagelin behind the Spartans goal forced a turnover just in front of the Spartans net, and Palushaj scooped up the loose puck and fired it past Lerg at 10:38.

Naurato added one more with just less than 20 seconds left on the clock. Defenseman Mark Mitera held the puck in at the blue line and threw the puck at Lerg. The Spartans goalie made the save, but the puck came back to Naurato just off the left post for the goal into the near side of the net.

"We got off to a strong start and scored first. Against a team like that, against such a defensive team, if they score first they're going to shut it down defensively," said Michigan captain Kevin Porter when asked about the period, "Getting those first couple of goals was huge for us."

Michigan State battled back within one goal near the middle point of the second period. Chris Mueller scored a goal on a backhand shot between the circles, and Tim Kennedy added a power-play goal from near the same spot at 12:14. Kennedy grabbed the rebound after Jeff Petry's shot glanced off Sauer's facemask and landed in front of the Michigan net with no defenseman to be found.

The Spartans momentum ended there, however, as Michigan's Max Pacioretty would score the final goal of the period with 35 seconds left in the second period. Pacioretty found a hole in front of Lerg and redirected Mark Mitera's point shot to give Michigan back the two-goal lead at 4-2.

Neither team was able to find the net in the final frame until Tim Miller scored his second goal, an empty net tally, with 32.6 seconds left on the clock.

With the win, the Wolverines improve to 26-4-4 on the season. One win against Ferris State next weekend would clinch the CCHA Regular season championship for the No. 1-ranked Wolverines.

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