Travel Blog: Five Keys as Gophers Look to Salvage UND Split

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Tonight against North Dakota, Minnesota will look to successfully avoid being swept on the road for the third time this season. The Gophers will also be attempting to halt a three-game losing streak and prevent a UND sweep that would give North Dakota coach Dave Hakstol his 300th win at his current school. After a 2-1 loss last night UM will need to keep some things in mind head heading into tonight's rematch. Here are five of them:
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1. Man Up
So far this year, the Gophers are 3-4-0 when failing to score on the power play. Yesterday, Minnesota came up empty on all four of its man-advantage opportunities and only outshot North Dakota 6-5 with UND down a man. The biggest opportunity UM had was on a five-minute chance that they received with 1:11 left in the first period when Danny Kristo was ejected for hitting Ben Marshall from behind. On that chance, North Dakota outshot the Gophers 4-1 and no goals were scored. Minnesota, who has converted on 23.7 percent of its power plays on the season is now 1-for-18 (5.6 percent) while a man up on UND.

2. Keep Killing Penalties
While UM's power play has not fared well against North Dakota, the Gophers' penalty kill has been excellent. The PK, which declined in December, killed off all three UND power plays last night and actually outshot North Dakota 3-1 in 4:29 of penalty killing. Minnesota's penalty kill is working at a 83.3 percent efficiency rate on the year. The Gophers will need to avoid unnecessary penalties and will need to kill off penalties when called upon.

3. No Odd-Man Rushes
Though Kent Patterson didn't allow a shorthanded goal for the second time in as many games last night, the Gophers afforded UND several odd-man rush opportunities last night, including multiple breakaways. Patterson can make the big saves, but the Gophers should rely on him to do it. 

4. Bear Down on D
Minnesota played well on defense and received strong goaltending from Kent Patterson, but uncharacteristically allowed their two goals against at bad times. Andrew MacWilliam's first career goal that tied the game with nine seconds left in the second period was the first goal the Gophers allowed in the final minute of a period all season. Brock Nelson's game-winning goal with 3:35 left in regulation was the second goal UM has allowed in final five minutes of regulation all year.

5. More Shots, More Goals
Yesterday marked the second time all year Minnesota's second-ranked offense was held to only one goal. The Gophers are averaging 3.92 goals per game on the season, but only have six goals in three games against North Dakota. You need to shoot to score and on Saturday, Minnesota took less than 30 shots for the first time in 13 games (since Nov. 11 at Wisconsin). UM also attempted less than 50 shots for the second time all year and missed the net on some of their best chances of the night.

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