Winger Brett Sterling, the nation's leading scorer, nearly had his second tally of the night, but saw his swinging shot deflected harmlessly off the pipe.
Moments later, defenseman Tom Gilbert's penalty expired and forward Jake Dowell found him with a floating pass at neutral ice. Gilbert skated in alone and beat CC goalie Matt Zaba, cutting the score to 2-1, and giving the team a much-needed boost.
Things looked a little dicey for the Badgers up until that point, even if they did out-shoot the Tigers 11-9 in the opening period.
"I don't think we were as good tonight as we were last weekend in many areas," UW head coach Mike Eaves said.
"It wasn't pretty, but it was a good point for us," CC head coach Scott Owens said. "I was very impressed with their team."
Wisconsin goalie Brian Elliott came into the game with a 12-game streak of holding opponents to less than three goals, but he gave up two in the first 17 minutes.
Sterling opened the scoring 11 minutes into the game with a simple little shot that even Elliott doesn't know how it got through his legs to put CC up 1-0.
Winger Joey Crabb doubled the lead for the Tigers five minutes later with a much niftier effort. He skated in and lifted up a backhand shot to beat Elliott top shelf over the goalie's glove.
Then, he almost saw a third goal go by when Sterling swatted at a puck in mid-air. Luckily for Elliott, Sterling did not get the bounce that time, and the netminder shook off the early blunders to extend his streak to 13 games.
It also helped that Gilbert got a timely goal—with just 1:04 left in the period—to give the Badgers the momentum going into the second period.
"You talk about turning points in the game and that was one of them," Eaves said. "3-0 versus 2-1, I know what I would like. That was a swing point."
Both teams came out and played a much more physical final 45 minutes, and the Badgers held the Tigers to just 12 shots over that span.
"We limited them, but I was on the edge of my seat the whole time," Eaves said. "I would give us the edge in scoring chances just as a feel, but they had their chances as well."
"I think everybody settled down after that first period," Elliott said. "I was seeing the puck a little better and being more patient."
Forward Jack Skille knotted the game for the Badgers with 2:30 remaining in the game for what would be the final goal of the contest.
Forward Ross Carlson made a great effort, poke-checking the puck to hold the offensive zone, then fired a seeing-eye pass through traffic in the slot to Skille. The winger, all but fell over, but managed to pop the puck up and into the net to tie the game 2-2.
It was the rookie's fifth goal of the season, tying him for the team lead through 11 games.
"My goal was to come in and just play my role," Skille said. "I guess I'm lucky to have these goals."
The Badgers put 12 shots on Zaba in the second period, but the physical play persisted in the third period and the teams landed just six shots on goal apiece and the game went to overtime.
There, Wisconsin out-shot CC 4-0, but Zaba stood firm and held on for the tie.
"A positive part about this is the second and third period we played really well and we can take that into tomorrow," Gilbert said.
Perhaps the best chance of the extra time came from Badger winger Robbie Earl, who skated in on Zaba but was pushed down on the play. Referee Brad Albers—as he had done most of the night—laid off the whistle.
Albers called just 10 penalties all night—five on each team—resulting in just three power plays per team.
"There were calls that could've been made either way, but the fact that he was consistent and did not dictate the outcome of the game was a positive," Owens said.
Eaves declined to comment on the officiating.
Zaba finished the game with 31 shots, while at the other end, Elliott was forced to make just 19 stops as the Badgers held the Tigers to a season-low 21 shots.
The Badgers will try to keep the momentum they garnered in the final two periods over to tomorrow night's series finale. While both teams want the win, Owens said he would be perfectly fine with a tie.
"If we tie, I'll be very happy," he said. "I'll be doing cartwheels on the bench."