The Nittany Lions were 11 points back of Michigan State in the Big Ten standings entering Friday night's showdown at Pegula Ice Arena, meaning they weren't likely to catch the Spartans anyway. But points are points when it comes to seeding the Big Ten conference tournament, and the Lions left what could be a vital one on the ice in the first of two skates with MSU.
Penn State (5-18-2, 1-5-1-0) entered the third leading 2-1, and seemed to be in good shape after killing off two final-stanza penalties (including a 5-on-3). But it allowed a late third-period goal before Michigan State winger Brent Darnell scored in round seven of a sudden death shootout to give Michigan State an extra point on the road.
"When you kill off those two big penalties, you want to try to harness that momentum and use it in your favor, and we could have done a better job of doing that," Penn State forward Ricky DeRosa said. "We talk about playing to win and not playing (not) to lose, and we just kind of got away from our game, Penn State hockey, in the third.
"It's a quick turnaround, 3:30 tomorrow, and we're just ready to get back after it."
The two big penalties occurred seven minutes and change into the third, as he and center David Glen went off 10 seconds apart to force the Lions into killing a 5-on-3.
They did, holding the visitors to just one quality opportunity. But they never tilted the ice in their favor, and recorded just five shots in the period.
Michigan State, meanwhile, threw 12 pucks on net in the third, including center Michael Ferrantino's rip from the slot that beat Nittany Lion goalie Matthew Skoff (32 saves) to even the game at 2-2 with four minutes to play.
"I really liked how our guys responded and killed it," Gadowsky said of the 5-on-3. "If you can kill a 5-on-3 as long as we did, especially on such a marginal call, that can sometimes give you a lot of momentum.
"I was hoping it would. I felt that we would come out and play a great third, and that's probably what I'm disappointed about," he continued. "We were outshot 12-5, and I was surprised that we didn't come out a lot hungrier."
Ferrantino's marker, his eighth of the year, erased Dylan Richard's power play score in the second that came just over a minute after DeRosa scored his third of the year to even the game at one.
Penn State had a power play opportunity that spilled into overtime, but couldn't solve Spartans' netminder Jake Hildebrand, who finished with 25 saves in regulation and seven more in the shootout.
"I thought it was a hard-played game," Michigan State head coach Tom Anastos said. "Both teams competed hard. They took advantage of a couple of mistakes we made, and we overcame that late penalty.
"It was nice to see one puck go in and finish it (in the shootout)."