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Michigan hockey splits weekend series at Minnesota

Michigan bounced back after dropping the first one.

COLLEGE HOCKEY: DEC 08 Minnesota at Michigan Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Michigan Wolverines’ hockey team earned a series split with a 4-1 win on Saturday night after losing 2-1 in overtime Friday against the Minnesota Golden Gophers.

The split still keeps the Wolverines atop the Big Ten standings with 33 points, having the edge with the winning percentage and goal-differential tie breaker with Ohio State (who also has 33 points).

Penalties cost the Wolverines

Friday night’s game saw a five-minute major come back to haunt Michigan. Jacob Truscott was sent off with 2:09 left in the third period for the major penalty for checking from behind. The penalty carried into overtime and Minnesota’s Ben Meyers scored 1:09 into the extra period to give the Gophers the win.

Michigan couldn’t generate much offense with having to kill off the short-handed chance. Dylan Duke was the lone goal-scorer for the Wolverines and Erik Portillo stopped 24-of-27 shots.

Saturday night’s alright…for scoring goals

Despite being outshot 40-19 on Saturday night, the Michigan offense took advantage of the opportunities they got by winning 4-1. Portillo stood on his head, stopping 39-of-40 shots and Brendan Brisson got the offense going with his 16th goal of the year to tie the game up at one goal apiece.

That was the start of four unanswered goals by Michigan. Matty Beniers, Michael Pastujov and Nick Blankenburg all tallied goals to make sure the Wolverines came away with five points on the weekend.

Portillo stole Saturday

Portillo without question stole the game on Saturday. Minnesota failed to convert on either of its two power play chances, which let Michigan score on the chances it had. Portillo is tied for 14th in the country with .924 save percentage and 2.25 goals against average. He’s been the key to Michigan’s run by making timely saves from point blank range and in transition.

Looking ahead

The Wolverines go back on the road this weekend when they travel to Wisconsin to take on the Badgers. After next week, Michigan only has six games left, with all signs pointing to the showdown with Ohio State to potentially determine the Big Ten regular season winner.