Observations from Minnesota's 4-3 loss to Michigan State

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Final Frame
Entering Friday, the Gophers had outscored their opponents 24-4 in the third period, but Michigan State scored twice on its first three shots of the period to take a 4-2 lead. MSU, who became the third team to score on UM in the third period (Minnesota-Duluth and Vermont are the other two), also handed Minnesota its first loss of the season in three games where the Gophers entered the third period with the game tied.

Rankings Aren't Everything
In the last five meetings between Minnesota and Michigan State, the higher-ranked team is 0-3-2 after No. 20 MSU topped third-ranked UM on Friday. The last time the higher-ranked team won in the battle for the Mariucci-Bessone Trophy was on Nov. 24, 2006 when the top-ranked Gophers beat No. 6 Michigan State 5-4 at Mariucci Arena.

A Rare Goal Against
Kevin Walrod's goal with one second left on a third-period Gopher power-play on Friday was the first shorthanded goal Minnesota allowed since Alaska Anchorage's Alex Gellert scored a man-down goal in the second period of a 4-3 WCHA Playoff win on March 11. The Gophers went through 78 power plays and scored 20 goals on the man advantage between shorthanded goals allowed.

It was the first regular-season shorthanded goal the Gophers allowed since Oct. 22, 2010 when St. Cloud's Garrett Roe did it in a 5-2 Husky win at Mariucci Arena. The last time Minnesota allowed a shorthanded goal on the road was on March 12, 2010 in a 6-0 WCHA playoff loss at North Dakota and the last time UM won after conceding a shorthanded goal was on Jan. 5, 2008 in a 5-2 home victory over Wayne State.

Better Late
The Gophers lost a game that started before 7:00 p.m. Central Time for the second time in three tries on Friday. Minnesota dropped a 5-4 Sunday home decision to Vermont that started at 1 p.m. after beating the Catamounts 6-0 two days prior in a 6:00 p.m. start. UM will play Michigan State at the same time tomorrow and is slated to faceoff in the second game of the Mariucci Classic on Dec. 31 against either Princeton or Northeastern at 6 p.m. The Gophers will also host Colorado College at 5 p.m. on Jan. 21.

Looking for Another Split
For a third straight weekend, the Gophers will look to avoid being swept after a Friday loss. The Gophers are 6-0-0 in Saturday games and haven't been swept in the regular season since losing to Minnesota State in Mankato, Minn. on Dec. 3 and 4, 2010. Minnesota hasn't been swept by a non-conference team since losing back-to-back games at Maine on Oct. 16 and 17, 1999. That series was Don Lucia's first behind the Gopher bench.

Though the Spartans will get two of their top players back from one-game disqualifications in Torey Krug and Greg Wolfe on Saturday, the Gophers have had a historical edge after dropping the first game to MSU in East Lansing, Mich. Minnesota is 8-5-0 in the second game of road series at MSU after losing the first game.

Can't Stop Bjugstad
Sophomore center Nick Bjugstad continued his torrid scoring pace by notching his two goals on on Friday. Bjugstad has at least a goal in each of his team's last four contests (seven overall in that span) including his first career hat trick against St. Cloud last Saturday. The Blaine, Minn.-native now has 15 goals in 15 games this year and is tied for the national lead in goal scoring with Colgate's Austin Smith, who also has 15.

Serratore is a Hit
The Gophers got off to a slow start on Friday and fell behind 2-0, but through the first ten minutes of the game, sophomore center Tom Serratore was one of the best players on the ice and was Minnesota's best player overall, making one big hit after another. Serratore's energetic play proved to spark the team and Gophers promptly scored two goals to tie the score before the end of the first. Serratore continued to stand out by making more MSU defenders pay with crushing checks in the final two periods.

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