Too little, too late was the story of the weekend. Seven goals on the road should have been enough to keep them in this series, but only two goals were scored this weekend when the outcome was still in reach.
Four goals came Friday with the game already decided and a 5th goal was scored Saturday down two with the net empty. They were able to get the puck in the net, but scoring goals when trailing all weekend was not what Red Berenson wanted to see from his team.
On a brighter note, they were positives to take away.
- A two point weekend for Andrew Copp brings him to 29 points on the year, tied with his previous career high.
- JT Compher added another hat trick to bring him to 11 goals on the year. It's been a rough year for Compher, but with 7 goals in his last four games he's matched his goal total from last season.
- Justin Selman continues to be a bright spot for this team. With another multi-point night he's doubled his previous career high in points with a 10-10--20 line through 21 games.
Getting two road wins was going to be tough, so the Wolverines needed a strong performance from their special teams units.
Two power play goals from Andrew Copp and Justin Selman got Michigan back in the Friday game, but that was after Penn State broke the game open with two power play goals of their own. Later, when Dylan Larkin was able to get them back in it, the Nittany Lions followed with a 3rd to put it away.
Saturday, with the game tied 2-2 Erik Autio beat Steve Racine as Zach Hyman was coming out of the box.
"We've got to be better on the PP and we've got to be better on the PK. We made mistakes that cost us the game." Berenson said postgame.
The Wolverines would finish 2-of-11 on the power play and 4-of-7 on the penalty kill. Not nearly good enough to get the job done.
Faceoffs were about even with Penn State holding a 77-75 advantage.
Goaltending and Blueline
It's not easy to win on the road. Against a team with 11 wins at Pegula this season, to have a chance the one thing the Wolverines could not allow was for Penn State to score first.
Both nights the Nittany Lions got on the board first within three minutes of the opening puck drop, and both nights they were not able to hold off Penn State when the forwards got them back into the games.
Steve Racine took a lot of heat for the weekend and he wasn't as sharp as he needed to be to get a win, but the blueline didn't give him much of a chance. D-Zone coverage in the 7-10 feet range was awful and they allowed 74 shots to reach their goalies in two games.
The trend of a stretch of good games followed by complete collapse has killed this team the entire year. More alarming than the performances themselves is when they've came, in big games and must-win situations.
That's the season in a nutshell.
Even with the loss Friday, Michigan still wasn't completely out of the at-large picture. Saturday ended any hopes. Now any chance to make the postseason will only come by winning the Big Ten Tournament.
That makes next week's series against Michigan State more important than anyone could have imagined even a week ago.
The Spartans have taken 1st place in the Big Ten, one point ahead of second place Michigan. With 4th place Penn State two points behind the Wolverines, Michigan could go into the tournament anywhere between 1st and 4th.