MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota scored three times in four minutes of the third period to beat Denver 5-1 Saturday and stay alive in the race for the Western Collegiate Hockey Association title.
Nick Bjugstad’s power-play goal at 9:52 of the third awakened the Gophers, who scored again at 12:24 and 13:44.
Minnesota was just 1-for-9 on the power play in the series. That one goal saved the Gopher’s hopes of winning consecutive McNaughton Cups.
“We finally got some shots,” Bjugstad said. “Thankfully it went in and we starting pouring it on after that.”
Zach Budish added an empty-net goal just over a minute to play. The Gophers outshot Denver 43-32.
Minnesota (22-7-5, 14-7-5) pulled within two points of St. Cloud State with two games remaining. The Gophers and North Dakota have 33 points apiece.
Denver (17-11-5, 12-9-5) took a 1-0 lead on Scott Mayfield’s goal at 3:34 of the first period. It was all Minnesota from there.
“I was happy with the way we played,” said Minnesota coach Don Lucia who said he saw a completely different team from the one that lost 2-0 on Friday. “It was a much better game tonight than last night. Win or lose, I was OK with that.”
Budish’s first goal tied the game and sent it into the third period knotted at 1-1.
“The third period was as big a period as we’ve had all season,” Lucia said.
Adam Wilcox made 31 saves for Minnesota and Sam Brittain had for the Pioneers.
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