MADISON, Wis. - The nation's top power play stayed hot on Friday night as the No. 2 Minnesota men's hockey team scored three goals on the advantage to edge No. 18 Wisconsin 3-2 in this weekend's series opener at the Kohl Center in Madison.
Minnesota (20-5-4 overall, 12-5-4 Western Collegiate Hockey Association) scored three unanswered power-play goals -- one in each period on Friday - to move within three league points of idle St. Cloud State for the WCHA lead. The Gophers picked up goals from Sam Warning, Nick Bjugstad and Seth Ambroz while Ben Marshall had a game-high two points with a pair of assists in the win.
After Wisconsin (12-10-7, 9-7-7) went up early with a Nic Kerdiles' goal at 14:32 of the first period, Warning salvaged a first period tie for the visitors with his sixth of the year with 1:09 left in the first stanza. Marshall and Mike Reilly each earned assists on the goal.
Bjugstad added his team-leading 16th goal of the season with a rifle past Joel Rumpel at 18:12 of the second period to give Minnesota its first lead of the night. Nate Schmidt picked up the primary assist on the goal for his fifth-straight game with a point while Erik Haula improved to a team-best 36 points with the secondary assist.
The nation's top offense would add one more that proved necessary as Seth Ambroz lit the lamp at 12:48 of the third period with Marshall picking up his second helper of the night. Wisconsin native Nate Condon was credited with the secondary assist as the Gophers went on to outshoot the Badgers 43-30 - tying the team's season high.
The home team would add an extra-attacker goal with 1:02 left in regulation from Tyler Barnes, but two goals were all that Adam Wilcox and the Minnesota defense would allow on Friday night. The rookie improved to 19-4-4 on the season with Friday's 28-save performance. Rumpel fell to 6-7-4 on the season, making 40 saves in the loss for Wisconsin. The Gophers finished the night 3-for-4 on the power play and 1-for-1 on the penalty kill.
Minnesota and Wisconsin conclude this weekend's series on Sunday as part of the OfficeMax Hockey City Classic. The outdoor game - Minnesota's first in the modern era - is set for approximately 3:30 p.m. at Chicago's Soldier Field.