After losing a pair of games to then-unranked Penn State in early December, Ohio State sat in the bottom half of the Big Ten, far from the NCAA tournament.
However, Ohio State responded to the defeats with red-hot play and now sits second in the conference as a rematch against the Nittany Lions looms in the horizon.
The No. 8 Buckeyes (14-4-4, 7-4-1-0 Big Ten) continued their stretch of dominant play by winning their fifth and sixth straight games with ease against Michigan State (8-13-1, 2-9-1-1 Big Ten). They defeated the Spartans 4-1 in the first game, then finished the sweep with a 5-3 victory in the second.
Special teams remained a strength for the Buckeyes the entire series. They allowed just one goal while on the penalty kill and scored three during power plays in both games combined. Ohio State has now scored a power-play goal in three straight games and remains the best team in the country while a man down.
The Buckeyes started Friday’s game fast and used the hot start to secure a 4-1 victory in the first game of the two-game series.
Junior defenseman Sasha Larocque took just 30 seconds in the first period to find the back of the net for the first time this season. The puck found its way to Larocque at the point, and the wrist shot beat sophomore goalie John Lethemon to put Ohio State up 1-0.
The second period felt like deja vu, with Ohio State scoring two goals in the first 32 seconds to take a 4-0 lead, a lead they never gave up. Sophomore forward Ronnie Hein scored his first goal of the season off a rebound from a shot by sophomore forward Tanner Laczynski, then Laczynski scored a goal of his own 17 seconds later after a Spartan turnover.
Junior forward Brennan Sanford scored the lone goal for Michigan State in the third period.
Redshirt junior goalie Sean Romeo made 21 saves. Michigan State pulled Lethemon after allowing four goals on 16 shots, and senior goalie Ed Minney made 12 saves after being put in the game.
While the second game of the series featured more back-and-forth action than the previous matchup, Ohio State was able to score in bunches to earn a 5-3 victory and extend its winning streak to six games.
The Buckeyes scored two goals in 17 seconds in the first period to take a 2-1 lead with goals by senior forward Matthew Weis and junior forward Dakota Joshua.
Midway through the third period, when Ohio State led 3-2, the Buckeyes put two past Minney in less than two minutes to secure a three-goal lead and the victory. Joshua scored for the second time in the game off a faceoff win, then junior forward Freddy Gerard scored the fifth goal of the night for Ohio State on assists by Laczynski and Weis.
Laczynski leads Ohio State with 29 points on the season, which is tied for third in the nation. The assist in the second game gave Laczynski a point in five straight games and 11 of the last 12.
Michigan State opened the scoring in the first period on a goal by freshman forward Mitchell Lewandowski, and the 1-0 lead held until Weis and Joshua scored with six minutes remaining in the period.
The Spartans tied the game at 2-2 with the lone goal of the second period on a power play goal by sophomore forward Sam Saliba.
Romeo made 20 saves in the victory. Minney made 26 saves in the losing effort for Michigan State.