On Saturday, Wisconsin's power play got the message and turned up the heat.
A night after going 0-for-7 on the power play, including coming up empty on three 5-on-3 chances, No.11 Wisconsin scored on its first power play chance and scored as time expired on its second, leading wire-to-wire over host Michigan Tech, winning 4-1 Saturday.
The three-point weekend put the Badgers (13-11-6, 9-9-4 WCHA), for the time being, alone in fourth place in the conference and won their first Saturday game in the last four tries.
Failing to score a first-period goal in the last four games and going 3-for-20 on the power play during that stretch, Wisconsin killed two birds with one stone.
Twenty-three seconds into Wisconsin's first power play of the evening, sophomore Michael Davies was the benefactor of a perfect pass from Jamie McBain to give him a wide-open net for the first goal of the game.
Nearly 11 minutes later as their second power play expired, the Badgers took advantage again. With Michigan Tech's Jimmy Kerr still coming out of the penalty box, defenseman Cody Goloubef scored his second of the year on a bullet from the point, basically scoring another power play.
"The power play is what gave us a great start," head coach Mike Eaves said. "We know how well we play in the first and haven't got goals. Tonight, we were able to get goals and they were provided by our power play."
But with a standing-room only crowd on the last night of Winter Carnival, the home Huskies gave the fans something to cheer about with a power play goal of their own.
After Blake Geoffrion was whistled for slashing, effecting whipping out the Badgers' period-open power play, Tech made the Geoffrion pay. Skating backwards with the puck above the left face-off circle, defenseman Geoff Kinrade fired a wrist shot past a partially screened UW goalie Shane Connelly, putting Tech on the board with only eight seconds remaining on the man advantage.
But little-known freshman defenseman Craig Johnson put the Badgers back in the driver seat with his first career goal and point, getting the puck wide open in the high slot from Sean Dolan and wristed the puck into the blocker-side top corner.
"I just told myself to just bury it (and) get that stress off me," Johnson said. "Everyone gave me some love and it was awesome."
Not to be left out, Dolan finished off the Badger scoring at 15:24 when he was left unguarded between the two circles, turning a high wrist shot into his fourth goal of the year.
The weekend was another showcase event for Connelly, who was 4-1-3 with a 1.70 goals-against average and a .933 save percentage in his last eight games before tonight.
Although not thoroughly tested on the 27 shots he faced Saturday, Connelly came up big when he had to.
"He did not have to make a lot of tough saves … but what set Shane apart all weekend was his ability to handle the puck when it was dumped in," Eaves said. "He almost acted like a three defenseman trying to help us out."
For his efforts in stopping 46 shots and allowing just two goals, Connelly was named the 2008 Winter Carnival Most Valuable Player and earning a celebratory kiss from Kristy Loomis, this year's carnival queen.
The kiss was the hot topic of debate the night before, as past Badger MVPs have taken different roads upon getting the award.
In 2000, Steven Reinprecht gladly kissed the queen while Sean Hill declined in 1990.
"There was much debate on whether that was going to happen," Eaves said.
There was no debate in Connelly's mind, however, once his name was called.
"I made up my mind as soon as my name was called to get in there," Connelly said. "Not many times that you get to kiss the Winter Carnival queen. You've got to enjoy it. It's a once in a lifetime thing."
With the incoming blizzard blanketing the Houghton area, yielding wins up to 30 mph, the Badgers, for the second year in a row, will spend an extra night on the Upper Peninsula. After getting swept last year when they badly needed points, an extra night this year is much more tolerable.
"It was awful and everyone was real down in the dumps because we needed wins," Connelly said. "It was the same thing this year with us needing wins. It's going to make the stay a little more enjoyable."