UNIVERSITY PARK - Cupid wasn't very kind to the Penn State men's hockey team in front of a raucous crowd at the Pegula Ice Arena Friday evening.
The Nittany Lions were courting consecutive victories for the first time since early November, but Michigan State rebuffed their advances to come away with a 3-2 shootout victory on Valentine's Day.
Penn State (5-18-2, 1-9-1 Big Ten) picked up a point in the Big Ten standings and got a solid game in net from Matthew Skoff (32 saves) and good special teams play, but couldn't keep up the momentum after beating Michigan last Saturday for its first conference win of the season.
The winning score in the shootout came down to the seventh round and Brent Darnell put the puck in the back of the net for the Spartans (8-13-7, 2-5-6-4 Big Ten).
"When you're up by one in the third and lose in a shootout it's sad. No one is happy in the locker room," Penn State coach Guy Gadowsky said. "It's a great experience to go through. It's a learning experience. Going into the third with a one-goal lead is the first time that's happened to us in the Big Ten and I'm optimistic we will learn from that.
"You have to give Michigan State credit for coming out and doing what they had to do. I thought they played their best period by far in the third."
After a scoreless first period, Michigan State got on the board when Greg Wolfe stole the puck at center ice and fed it to Lee Reimer for a breakaway goal with four minutes gone in the second. Penn State had just finished off an unsuccessful power play. The goal was Reimer's sixth of the season.
The goal woke up the Nittany Lions from their offensive doldrums. Penn State scored two goals in a span of a little over a minute.
Ricky DeRosa potted his fifth of the season at the 8:26 mark with assists from Eric Scheid and David Thompson to even things at 1-1. A Spartan penalty gave Penn State the man advantage and the hosts capitalized with a power-play goal from Dylan Richard at 9:31. Richard's third of the year came on a nice feed from Taylor Holstrom in the slot. Casey Bailey had the second assist.
The Nittany Lion special teams shined, scoring a power-play goal and going a perfect 6-for-6 in the penalty kill, including a third-period 5-on-3 stop.
"The one positive was our special teams. "I thought it was a ticky-tack call on David Glen. It was a tough call, especially when you have almost a two minute 5-on-3. I like the way we responded," Gadowsky said. "When you kill a 5-on-3 as long as we did on a marginal call that should give you a lot of momentum. I was hoping it would.
"I felt we would come out and play a great third. I was disappointed with that. They outshot us 12-5 in the period. I was surprised we didn't come out a lot hungrier. Like I said, that 5-on-3 kill should have given us a lot of momentum. We didn't capitalize on that."
The Spartans tied it with just 3:54 left when Matt Berry dished to Michael Ferrantino who scored stick side on Skoff. The goal was Ferrantino's eighth of the season. John Draeger collected the second assist.
"I thought it was a hard played game, kind of choppy. There wasn't a lot of flow to the game," Michigan State coach Tom Anastos said. "From our perspective, Penn State took advantage of a couple mistakes we made. It was good to see our team stay with things, keep their composure, fight back and tie the score.
"We just couldn't come up with the winning goal in regulation. You get into the shootouts and you never know what's going to happen. We've been in too many of them, but this was the longest one without scoring a goal. It was nice to get one in and finish with a win."
Jake Hildebrand had 25 saves and a little luck on his side. In the first period, Scheid's slapper from the top of the left face-off circle hit the pipe.
"He played great (Skoff). He was very solid in net. Luckily we had a nice performance from Jake (Hildebrand)," Anastos said. "He had 25 saves and kept us in it when we kind of fell apart in the second period.
"Our special teams did not have a good night, especially on the 5-on-3. We didn't move the puck well in that situation. We have to tighten our power play up. Guy Gadowsky is a good coach and he always has his team ready to play. They played us hard at home and they did it again tonight. We expected this kind of game. They played with a lot of confidence and we know we'll see the same kind of game Saturday."
Michigan State outshot Penn State 34-27. The rematch goes down at 3 p.m. today.