It's pretty hard to score three or four goals every game when you have a young team without a large amount of NHL talent. Ohio State had been doing that lately, but their scoring momentum took a dive into the abyss on Saturday night as Michigan State took down the Buckeyes in the shootout, 1-0, after going through regulation and overtime tied at 1-1.
Coming in, Ohio State hadn't scored less than four goals in a game since Feb. 19 versus Penn State in a 6-1 loss. The Buckeyes had scored at least six in five of their last six games, with their only losing effort, again in a shootout, coming in a game that ended overtime tied at 4-4. But the Bucks would only be able to score one before the shootout on Saturday night on Jake Hildebrand and Michigan State and would be held scoreless in the shootout, giving the Spartans the opportunity they needed to go in for the kill.
Thomas Ebbing gave MSU the first goal of the game for the second straight night, putting one past Christian Frey at 3:41. The Spartans looked to have taken a 2-0 lead later in the period, but the goal was waved off due to a Spartan illegally in the crease. Ohio State would take advantage of the waved off goal and Mason Jobst, the freshman, scored with just over seven minutes left by bouncing the puck off the boards from the neutral zone and beating the MSU defenders to it for his best effort to ruin MSU's senior night.
OSU led in shots 13-8 in that first period, and looked to have all the momentum with that Jobst goal. But Hildebrand wouldn't let anything cross for the rest of the game. Ohio State would take a penalty early in the second and then take another one almost immediately after they killed the first one off. Thankfully for the Buckeyes, MSU wouldn't score, but that would prove to be valuable time that Ohio State would have liked to have later. Brandon Kearney would get five minutes later in the period while MSU's Ryan Keller only received four for their after the whistle infractions, again costing OSU some time and a player who scored last night on MSU.
MSU took advantage of this powerplay time to the best of their ability and led in shots in the period 13-4. Frey kept everything out but the momentum had clearly swung toward Michigan State after the penalties from OSU. Ohio State would kill off that extra minute from the Kearney penalty in the third but would take a five minute major penalty with ten minutes left, again putting themselves in a hole they themselves dug.
They'd again kill it off, but they just ultimately cost themselves too much time trying to dig out of self made holes. Eventually the game remained tied into overtime and, unlike last night, neither team would be able to end it during the actual hockey playing. So, to a shootout we went.
The shootout would only last three rounds. Nick Schilkey, Matt Weis and David Gust, the team's three leading scorers, all were stopped by Hildebrand while Joe Cox, after tying last night's game with 1.6 seconds left, scored on Frey in the second round to send MSU's seniors out in style.
On the bright side, OSU finally got a solid effort from Frey again after he was giving up goals in bunches and seeing his save percentage drop to .908. He stopped 29 out of 30 shots for a .967 save percentage and if he puts up those numbers in the conference tournament, it's highly unlikely anyone is going to beat Ohio State if just a little offense shows up.
Unfortunately for the Buckeyes, it didn't tonight. They'll get another chance at Hildebrand and Michigan State on Thursday, however, when the two teams play again in the Big Ten conference tournament quarterfinals in Saint Paul, MN.