It was not the weekend of hockey Penn State was hoping to see.
With so much on the line for the No. 11 Nittany Lions, they were denied by Michigan 4-0 Saturday night at Yost Ice Arena to close the regular season.
Adam Winborg scored twice and assisted on another goal for the Wolverines, who won four of their past five games. At the other end of the ice, Zach Nagelvoort made 46 saves for the shutout.
Penn State (21-11-2, 10-9-1), at one time the nation’s No. 1 team, closed the season losing five of its final eight and dropped to fourth place in the Big Ten. It sets up a rematch with the Wolverines (13-18-3, 6-12-2) in the first round of the conference tournament at 8 p.m. Thursday at Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena.
It also brings into question the Nittany Lions’ chances of making the NCAA tournament. The bracket will be revealed March 19.
Tony Calderone and Nicholas Boka had the other Michigan goals as Peyton Jones made 19 saves.
Penn State wasn’t without opportunities, peppering the net with a 46-23 shot advantage, and 21 more attempts were blocked by the Wolverine defense.
A pair of negated goals left the Lions frustrated in the first period.
It appeared Denis Smirnov had opened the scoring 9:06 into the game, but the goal was waved off after it was ruled David Goodwin interfered with Nagelvoort.
In the final minute of the first, Andrew Sturtz thought he had a goal, knocking in a rebound, but the officials whistled the play dead just before his shot when Trevor Hamilton’s helmet was knocked off his head behind the net.
Three minutes after Smirnov’s disallowed goal, Michigan got what proved to be the game-winner from Winborg, when Jones let a rebound bounce right to freshman’s stick for his sixth goal of the season.
Calderone doubled the lead with a power play score 2:14 into the third, giving him three goals on the weekend. Penn State had killed its previous 16 penalties without allowing a goal before Calderone’s score.
Winborg added his second score late in the third and Boka added a long empty-net tally to wrap up the contest.
Penn State was 0 for 5 on the power play and 0 for 9 on the weekend. The Wolverines entered the weekend killing just 84 percent of their penalties, ranking in the bottom third nationally, while Penn State had been converting on 20 percent of its power plays.