Detroit — Michigan and Michigan State made the journey to Little Caesars Arena in Detroit on Saturday night for a second matchup in as many days between the in-state rivals.
But Michigan, the victor in Friday’s contest, arrived to the fourth annual Duel in the D just a little bit earlier.
The Wolverines jumped on Michigan State with two goals early in the first period and another to start the third before holding off a late Spartans barrage to secure a 5-2 victory to bring home the “Iron D” trophy for the third consecutive year.
“It was important to get a lead,” Michigan coach Mel Pearson said.
“They’re hard to play against when they get the lead, … you start pressing if things aren’t going your way to play catch-up, and that’s where their transition game can really burn you.”
Dakota Raabe slammed home the Wolverines’ second shot of the game courtesy of a perfect front-door pass from Quinn Hughes at 5:31, and exactly three minutes later, Will Lockwood put Michigan (12-11-6, 8-7-4 Big Ten) up 2-0 with a power-play goal.
Lockwood, who had the winning goal Friday in Ann Arbor, has scored eight goals in his last ten games. He credited his recent run of success to good positioning.
“Just getting to the net has been something that I’ve been focusing on,” Lockwood said. “We got a lot of great players on the ice, and they’re doing a great job with the puck and getting it to the net.”
With Michigan State’s chances dwindling late in the third, Mitchell Lewandowski brought the Spartans (10-14-5, 6-9-4) back to life. He scored twice in 2:36 to make it a one-goal game with 4:25 left in the third period.
“We stuck with our process, and we had every guy going in there and there was no quit on the bench,” Lewandowski said. “We gave ourselves a chance there, goalie pulled and everything.”
Nolan Moyle went the other way with a fumbled puck in the neutral zone and buried a breakaway backhander 2:36 into the third for the winning goal. Moyle later sealed the deal for Michigan with an empty-net goal in the game’s final minute.
“I think when we move our feet and support each other, we do a really good job in the offensive zone and get pucks on net,” Moyle said.
The Spartans struggled to get anything going for a majority of the first period, landing just one shot on goal through 17:56.
Michigan State came alive in the second, but rested Wolverine goaltender Strauss Mann was up to the task — as he was most of the game, stopping 21 of 23 shots faced — and kept momentum on Michigan’s side with a handful of big saves to close the middle frame.
“I can’t say enough about our goaltender,” Pearson said. “I thought he stood tall tonight, maybe he didn’t have that many saves, but he had some great saves on some of their top players. I think he was a real difference in the hockey game.”
With the weekend sweep of Michigan State, the Wolverines picked up their first back-to-back wins since defeating Lake Superior State and No. 6 Notre Dame in succession on Nov. 3 and 9.
The win moved Michigan into sole possession of second place in the Big Ten after Minnesota fell to No. 18 Penn State earlier in the evening.
“Every point’s huge this late in the year,” Moyle said. “We just need to continue to ride this wave.”
Luke Morgan scored an empty-net goal, Hughes finished with three assists, and Moyle and Nick Pastujov each had an assist for Michigan. Jerad Rosburg assisted on both of Lewandowski’s goals, with Logan Lambdin and Dennis Cesana grabbing one assist each.
Nolan Bianchi is a freelance writer.