Michigan Tech jumped out to another early lead in the first game of its series with Minnesota Duluth this past weekend.
The Huskies scored twice in the opening period and led 2-0 after one. Tech, however, couldn't hold onto its advantage.
The Bulldogs scored a goal in the second period and added four more in the third to defeat the Huskies 5-3. It was the fifth time this season that Tech had given away a two-goal edge.
The Huskies have gone 1-2-2 over that stretch. The only game in which Tech had a two-goal lead and didn't give it away was in its 6-2 win over Lake Superior State Oct. 9.
"Duluth scored right at the end of the second period to make it 2-1," Tech coach Jamie Russell said of game one. "They had a power play they were continuing into the third period. They scored to make it 2-2.
"Going into the third we wanted to press and be aggressive. We wanted to get that third goal and not just sit on a lead for 20 minutes. We get a power-play opportunity of our own.
"There was a loose puck and (Goalie) Josh (Robinson) decided to come out and play it. We were fine. We had numbers back (in the defensive zone). They get a shorthanded goal and that kind of sucked a lot of the life out of us."
The Bulldogs outshot Tech 47-17 in the series opener. But the 30-shot discrepancy is more than a bit deceiving.
Most of those 47 shots didn't come from prime scoring areas. Duluth held just a slim margin in "true" quality scoring chances.
"In that building (the DECC), it's a very small rink," Russell said. "Its dimensions are even smaller than an NHL rink. It's about 190 feet long, so it's a bandbox.
"They (Duluth) shoot from everywhere. I'll be honest. I thought we protected ourselves very well. A lot of the shots came from the perimeter. I'm not really concerned about that (the shots on goal) because the scoring chances ended up 12-8 and two of those chances resulted in goals that weren't really (good) scoring chances."
Penalties hurt the Huskies in the second game of the series Saturday. Tech was whistled for 57 minutes in penalties and gave up three power-play goals in seven shorthanded situations.
Duluth's second goal with the man advantage in the second period proved to be the game winner. The Bulldogs would add another power-play tally late in the frame to go up 4-2 heading to the third.
"It was a different game on Saturday than it was on Friday," Russell said. "They scored first. We demonstrated some good resiliency and bounced back to tie it at 1.
"They went up 2-1 and we battled back again to tie it at 2-2. They scored on a five-minute major. It wasn't a situation where the player was in danger. They (the referees) called a five-minute major for contact to the head.
"I thought we lost our composure a little bit. We're looking for our older players to lead the way in terms of maintaining and controlling highs and lows, but we had two older players who put us two men short.
"You're giving a top-5 power play team in the country two five-on-three advantages and a five-minute major as well, that's a pretty tall mountain to climb for our penalty killers. I thought our penalty kill did well on the weekend. I have no complaints."
The third and final power-play goal for Duluth proved to be the final goal of the series. Tech couldn't battle its way back a third time to tie the game again.
The Huskies will return home this weekend for a pair of games against Minnesota Friday (7:07 p.m.) and Saturday (7:07 p.m.).
K.D. Warvie can be reached at kwarvie@ mininggazette.com.