We knew this game had to come. Michigan was scoring goals at an amazing rate but eventually they had to come back down to earth.
Tonight was that night.
The Spartans wasted no time setting up their neutral zone trap. It didn't work the way it was supposed to; the Wolverines easily beat it, but the pace was slowed just enough to tilt the ice in State's favor and for almost two full periods the Michigan attack that looked unstoppable couldn't stop stepping on their own feet. They turned the puck over, gave the Spartans chances to seize momentum by taking unnecessary penalties and nullified their own power plays.
The Spartans were able to take advantage of that shorthanded when Mason Appleton was dragged down on a breakaway. Joe Cox took the ensuing penalty shot and gave the Spartans the lead.
The Wolverines controlled the game coming out of the locker room but quickly came face to face with Tom Anastos hockey. With the lead MSU collapsed around their net selling out to block shots around Jake Hildebrand; the tight formation allowed the Wolverines to launch point shots at Hildebrand, but if they weren't blocked they were easily handled by Hildebrand.
Michigan's breakthrough came with Tyler Motte in the box. With time winding down on a penalty the Spartans lost track of Motte, who stepped out of the box and caught a puck ringing around the boards, walked in on Hildebrand and scored low blocker.
Midway through the 3rd period a Spartan shot redirected in front of Racine that he never saw. It was a sure goal and a back breaker until a desperation swipe from the stick of Nick Boka knocked the puck out of the net with just a fraction of it hanging on the goal line.
The teams would trade goals late in the third. Tyler Motte scored first to give Michigan the lead, taking a pretty backhand feed from JT Compher and lazering a puck by Hildebrand but the Spartans had the answer from Joe Cox on a cycle play that left Cox alone above the hashmarks for an easy goal.
Even with Michigan gift wrapping this game for MSU by giving them another power play to end regulation, Steve Racine was there to bail out a blueline that couldn't handle the puck all night.
In the end the Wolverines just couldn't get out of their own way. The Spartans kept grinding and with 2:32 in the overtime went back to the power play. From there a Michigan defenseman tried to make a play at the blueline and turned a routine rush into the game winning goal.
Up next the season series closes in East Lansing Saturday.