The once-vaunted Michigan hockey team is now winless (0-3-1) in its last four after dropping its third straight game, this time a 5-2 loss at Wisconsin Friday night in which the lack of offense was actually the culprit.
Michigan trailed 2-0 after two periods of play, and would fall behind 3-0 when the puck deflected off Badger forward Jefferson Dahl's skate at 11:47 of the third period. By that time, U-M had gone more than two full games (131:04) without a tally, having been shut out 3-0 in its previous defeat to Michigan State.
"We've got to have a better start," head coach Red Berenson said. "You can't come out and get down two goals and give that team the confidence of playing with a lead. They don't give you much after that.
"It's a tough game. So it's a whole different ballgame if you're playing with the lead in a team's home rink. Then they have to open up a bit and you get more chances. And our special teams, our power play had to get us on the board when we had our chances. That's your next best chance. If you're not scoring 5-on-5, then you have to score on the power play."
Sophomore centerman Andrew Copp would finally end the drought at 14:50 of the third -- the time elapsed between goals finishing at 135:07. However, by then, the Maize and Blue were down 3-1 and time was dwindling fast.
If there is anything good that came out of Friday's loss it is that U-M ended both its goalless drought and its power-play drought, netting a man-advantage marker at 17:58 on a one-timer from senior Luke Moffatt. That goal snapped a an 0 for 21 skid for the Wolverines on the power play, dating back to a 4-3 win over Ohio State Nov. 29.
"Obviously, it feels good to get a power-play goal, but it's just too late," Moffatt said. "We already had four chances earlier in the game. We've got to bear down on those. We can't wait until the end of the game to start burying goals."
Michigan pulled freshman goalie Zach Nagelvoort shortly after closing within one, but Wisconsin put the nail in the coffin with the empty-net marker at 18:42, and added a fifth goal for good measure with just 40 seconds left on the clock.
Nagelvoort made 25 total saves in the game, and while the four goals he allowed were a season high, he kept the Maize and Blue in the contest through 2.5 periods of play. He'd like UW's first goal back, but the rookie had no chance on a pair of markers -- the Badgers' second and third of the night -- that deflected off skates in front of the net.
Still, it is likely that sophomore Steve Racine will get the call Saturday night as U-M looks to salvage its weekend, and end its losing streak, when Michigan meets Wisconsin again.
The game will begin at 8:00 pm and can be seen on Fox Sports Wisconsin.