Without star forwards Tyler Barnes or Nic Kerdiles for the second game in a row, the Badgers struggled offensively for most of the night in a 2-2 tie with Michigan. The Wolverines won the shootout 1-0 and got the extra point after Michigan netminder Zach Nagelvoort kept Morgan Zulinick, Michael Mersch and Mark Zengerle from scoring.
The first period was a clinic in goaltending as both Wisconsin's Joel Rumpel and U-M's Nagelvoort showed they were on their games. Rumpel stopped 12 Michigan shots to Nagelvoort's 10 saves in the period, which ended 0-0 on the scoreboard.
Wisconsin needed Rumpel to be on all night long, as they were forced on to the penalty kill six times. He was equal to the task and kept the Wolverines off the board in each of the six power play opportunities.
By doing so, he gave the offense a chance to set the tone for the game, and it was UW's offense lighting the lamp first. If it's a Badger scoring a goal, chances are a good guess is the name of Michael Mersch. On Saturday's opening goal you would've been correct.
Mersch lit the lamp at just 1:02 in to the 2nd period, doing so on a goal that is SportsCenter Top 10-worthy:
(h/t: Andy Johnson)
It was Mersch's 15th goal of the season and point number 25 on the season for the forward. Assisting on the goal were Joe Faust and Brad Navin.
Despite the one goal advantage, Wisconsin began to play on the back foot for most of the rest of the game. Michigan made sure to make UW pay for it's lack of offense when Tyler Motte tied the game up at 1-1 at the 10:10 mark of the 2nd period.
However, it appeared that woke the Badgers up a bit, as UW would retake the lead six minutes later thanks to a nice play by Mark Zengerle. He took a breakaway to the Wolverines net and was pulled down from behind to avoid an easy breakaway.
Zengerle stepped up at buried the penalty shot, making it 2-1 Badgers at the 16:14 mark of the 2nd period. From there, the Wolverines continued the onslaught to no avail. After two periods it was 26-19 shot advantage for the Wolverines.
The 2-1 lead should've been great news for Wisconsin, as the Badgers came in to the game 11-0-0 when leading after two periods this season.
However, UW got themselves in some major trouble with a lack of any offense in the third period. It eventually led to Luke Moffatt finding the back of the net, tying the game up at 2-2 at the 7:02 mark of the 3rd period.
Michigan continued to dominate the chances in the period, outshooting the Badgers 12-2, but it couldn't convert the advantage in to a win at home.
Instead, the third period ended with a tie game on the board, and overtime was next.
The OT period saw both teams create some very good chances early on, but neither could convert on them and after five minutes the Badgers and Wolverines went to a shootout.
Finally, the offensive advantage Michigan held in regulation paid off, as Luke Moffatt would deek Rumpel and shelve the puck for the only goal in the shootout and give his team the extra point on the night.
The Badgers were outshot 41-27 on the night, yet thanks to Rumpel and some good defensive blocking they found a way to at least earn a point on this trip to Ann Arbor.
Wisconsin drops to 14-8-2 (5-2-1-0 B1G) on the season with the loss and tie this weekend in Ann Arbor.
Up next is a crucial series on Thursday/Friday against the rival Gophers, who are currently in danger of just running away with the Big Ten conference race. They came in to tonight's game with 23 points, while UW left its game with just 16 points in B1G play.
Thursday's game is at 7:30pm CT on BTN, and Friday's tilt will be at 8pm CT on BTN as well.