Observations from Minnesota's 5-4 win over Minnesota-Duluth

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Taking Down the Champs and Starting Strong
Minnesota improved to 10-3-1 against defending national champion teams since repeating in 2002-03 by beating 2010-11 champ Minnesota-Duluth on Friday. All but one of those 14 contests came against WCHA opponents. The Gophers are off to a 3-0-0 start for the first time since 2001-02.

Overtime Turnaround?
Minnesota went 0-1-5 in its first six overtime games of last season before posting its first and only extra-session victory over Bemidji State in the last game of the regular season. In 2011-12, however, the Gophers collected their first overtime win in their third overall game with their 5-4 OT win on Friday. Conversely, Minnesota-Duluth started strong in overtime games last year with five wins and no losses in seven overtime games in the first two months of the season.

Patterson's Prowess
For seven-plus periods, Gopher goalie Kent Patterson kept Minnesota opponents off the scoreboard. The senior netminder's shutout streak ended after 145:12 when Caleb Herbert beat him with a great individual effort. Patterson didn't have a shutout in his collegiate career before this season, but didn't let the end of a great run affect his play against the team that has proven to test him the most. The Colorado Avalanche draftee made a career-high 46 saves to record his fifth 35-plus save game against the Bulldogs.

Rau Comes Up Big All Around
Just like he did in high school, Kyle Rau made some key plays to help push the his team to victory. After UMD tied the game 2-2 quickly on a five-minute power play, Rau broke the puck out and drew a major penalty from Luke McManus to cancel out the rest of what could have been a lengthy UMD opportunity. He also drew and interference call at the beginning of the third. In addition to giving Minnesota man-up opportunities, Rau also scored his second and third goals of the season and was effective on the penalty kill.

Powerful Power Play
There were many skeptics concerned with Minnesota's power play performance against Sacred Heart last weekend after the unit scored three goals on 14 opportunities. In their WCHA opener, the Gophers' man advantage play silenced some of its doubters for at least one night, scoring three times on six chances. Kyle Rau notched two of those goals and Erik Haula opened the scoring with a power-play tally.

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