Pegula Ice Arena was that pot sitting silently on the hot burner Saturday night.
It took a while, but the Penn State men’s hockey team, and the arena, finally — loudly — boiled over.
Uncharacteristically trailing in the third period, the No. 4 Nittany Lions netted four goals in the span of 8:32, including two scores nine seconds apart, to torch hapless Michigan State 5-3.
“The message after the second period was, ‘Stick with it, it will come,’ ” Chase Berger said after scoring a pair of goals to give him 10 on the season.
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Ricky DeRosa, Dylan Richard and Denis Smirnov also scored for the Nittany Lions (16-2-1, 5-1 Big Ten), who have won 14 of their past 15.
Taro Hirose, Mason Appleton and Damian Chrcek had the goals for the Spartans (4-15-1, 0-6), who have lost nine straight.
Peyton Jones made 25 saves for the win to outduel Ed Minney, who stopped 46 shots.
“This could be, really, just what we needed,” said coach Guy Gadowsky, whose team has been playing with early leads most of the year. “It was a tough, tough game. We’ve been fortunate enough that we’ve been able to coast a little bit in the third. This wasn’t that type of game. This was all-out for everybody to try to get the win.”
With the Nittany Lions in need of a jolt of energy trailing 2-1, they got it midway through the third period when Vince Pedrie swiped the puck at the Penn State blue line to lead a break the other way. Pedrie’s pass, intended for James Robinson, was deflected by a sliding Spartan, but DeRosa swept in the loose puck to knot the game.
“Coach always says play with instinct,” said Pedrie of the turnover. “I think that’s kind of where it started.”
With the Pegula pot ready to boil, a Michigan State penalty lit the match. Six seconds into the power play, Pedrie’s shot from the high slot bounced off the boards behind the net right to Richard, who knocked it in and the building erupted.
A mere nine seconds later, Berger got his second score with the help of David Goodwin and the lead was 4-2. It was the fastest back-to-back goals in program history.
“Goody made a really nice play to me,” Berger said. “We were just kind of happy we scored.”
“It was like the roof blew off the building,” Pedrie added.
Then from the boards Trevor Hamilton fed Smirnov streaking up the middle and the freshman hit the top shelf for the final goal of the run with 2:10 left. It was Smirnov’s 11th goal of the season and Hamilton’s 16th assist of the campaign.
“I thought we took the crowd out of the game a fair bit, for the majority of the game,” Michigan State coach Tom Anastos said. “We served it up so that’s what you get.”
It looked like Penn State had the game’s first goal when David Goodwin swatted in a rebound, but Minney cleared the puck off the line just before it crossed. Seconds later at the other end, Hirose gathered his own rebound and beat Jones for an early Spartan lead.
An early power play led to the tying goal in the second period, when Kevin Kerr’s feed found Berger camped in front of the net for the deflection.
Appleton put the Spartans back in front, tipping in Hirose’s shot from the point on a power play for a lead that held until the final game’s final 9:31.
“They just kept at it and it paid off,” Gadowsky said. “I don’t think they quit, I don’t think they deviated, I think they kept on doing what they do.”
Chrcek finished the scoring with 11.1 seconds left.
Notes: Penn State is home again next weekend, hosting Ohio State on Friday and Saturday. The teams split their series in Columbus last weekend. … Penn State was 0-2 this season when trailing through two periods before the rally. … Taylor Holstrom and Eric Scheid had the previous record for fastest back-to-back goals, 16 seconds apart against Bentley in 2014. … Goodwin now has 17 assists while Smirnov has 29 points.