Minnesota sets power play goal record in split at OSU

The Gophers netted all six of Saturday’s goals with an extra attacker on the ice.

Gophers forward Vinni Lettieri chases the puck into the corner against Michigan on Friday, Jan. 13, 2017 at Mariucci Arena.

Carter Jones, Daily File Photo

Gophers forward Vinni Lettieri chases the puck into the corner against Michigan on Friday, Jan. 13, 2017 at Mariucci Arena.

Drew Cove

Six power play goals in the game is a new record for the Gophers.

No. 5 Minnesota (18-8-2, 9-3-0 Big Ten) split the series with No. 12 Ohio State (14-8-6, 5-6-1 Big Ten) with a 5-4 loss Friday and a 6-5 win Saturday.

“It was a big win for us,” head coach Don Lucia told the media. “It was a great, great comeback for our guys, and they sold out right to the end.”

Minnesota’s win Saturday was highlighted by six power play goals in one game — a modern-era program record.

One of the top leaders of the team — defenseman Jake Bischoff — scored the final power play goal, the game-winner for Minnesota, to put the Gophers up 6-5.

In a game that didn’t feature defenseman Ryan Lindgren and lost forward Rem Pitlick, the Gophers still kept pace with one of the top offenses in the nation, even after falling into a 3-0 deficit in the second period.

Minnesota’s big scorers pulled through with a win with goals from forwards Vinni Lettieri, Brent Gates Jr., Justin Kloos and Tyler Sheehy.

Lettieri, who has 15 goals this season, scored the first goal of the game Saturday, following a power play that resulted from a hit that injured Pitlick.

“I think that first goal to make it 3-1, 3-2, that kind of got us going,” Lucia said. “It was one of those games you felt like you were never out of it.”

Despite scoring six goals and winning the game, none of Minnesota’s players finished with a positive plus/minus rating.

The Gophers’ defense and goaltending allowed five goals on 22 shots, bringing goaltender Eric Schierhorn’s personal statistics to a goals-against average of 2.75 and a save percentage of .897.

The story of Minnesota falling behind Saturday was the same story Friday, after they faced a 2-0 deficit after the first period.

The Gophers, despite a three-goal second period, weren’t able to hold their short-lived lead and did not mount a full comeback to win Friday.

Minnesota came out with new life in the second period and scored three consecutive goals to take the 3-2 lead, but gave up a goal 49 seconds after Lettieri scored the go-ahead.

Defensive breakdowns and bad passing plagued Minnesota time and time again, which gave plenty of chances to the high-flying offense of the Buckeyes.

Two of Ohio State’s forwards, Tanner Laczynski and Nick Schilkey, were able to get around the Minnesota defenders and score a couple of highlight-reel goals.

After finding themselves down 5-3 in the third period, it was crunch time for the Gophers.

Lucia pulled Schierhorn with less than two minutes left, and Minnesota was pressing. Kloos scored a goal to bring the Gophers within one with 1:53 remaining in the game, but it wasn’t enough.

Minnesota took a penalty shortly thereafter, marking an end to the comeback bid.

It was too-little, too-late for the Gophers Friday, but they were able to redeem themselves and split in Columbus.

“It was great that we had every single guy on the team selling out to fight back and get a big road win,” Lettieri told the media Saturday. “We did the little things right.”