Friday in Minneapolis there would be no comeback as the Gophers continued their second-half surge, throttling Wisconsin 4-1. Minnesota scored two goals each in the first and third periods, three with the man-advantage. Sophomore forward Thomas Vanek notched three assists and junior defenseman Keith Ballard added a goal and an assists for the Gophers.
Minnesota (15-9-3 overall, 10-8-1 WCHA) is now just two points behind Wisconsin and idle St. Cloud State in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association standings and can draw even if it completes a sweep of the Badgers Saturday (7:05 p.m. CST). The Gophers have won six of their last seven contests and are 14-2-2 since visiting Wisconsin Nov. 14-15 while the Badgers have just one win of their last six outings (1-4-1).
Facing the nation's most efficient power play did not help Wisconsin (15-8-6, 9-5-5) solve its recent penalty killing woes. Minnesota converted 3 of 5 opportunities into goals, including two in the last five minutes and 40 seconds of the first period. The Gophers have now scored with the man-advantage in 12 of their last 13 games while Wisconsin has yielded a power play goal in seven straight, including seven goals in the last three games.
The Badgers' two goals each came on Gopher turnovers, including senior wing Rene Bourque's breakaway opportunity that beat Minnesota netminder Kellen Briggs 5-hole to cut the lead in half in the second period.
Wisconsin, though, could not sustain pressure on Briggs, who faced just 18 shots and improved to 11-2-2 in his last 15 decisions. On the other end, Minnesota peppered Badger junior netminder Bernd Bruckler with 38 shots.
Score by period
Shots on goal by period
UM 2 - Troy Riddle (14) from Keith Ballard (14) and Thomas Vanek (15), PPG, at 17:29
UW 1 - Rene Bourque (10) from Andrew Joudrey (13) at 13:44
UM 3 - Ballard (8) from Andy Sertich (11) and Vanek (16), PPG, at 0:51
UW - Bernd Bruckler (59:59) - 34 saves, 4 goals allowed
UM - Kellen Briggs (60:00) - 16, 2