UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.( – A late empty net goal by Penn State broke up a third period rally by Minnesota as the Gophers fell to the Nittany Lions 5-3 in the opening game of this weekend’s Big Ten quarterfinal series on Friday night.

The Gophers freshman class accounted for all three of Minnesota’s goals in the series opener as Casey Mittelstadt scored a pair of power-play goals for Minnesota (19-16-2) while Scott Reedy picked up a tally for the Maroon & Gold and added an assist. Rem Pitlick assisted on all three goals for the Gophers.

Mittelstadt opened the night’s scoring with his ninth of the year at 11:13 of the first period on Minnesota’s first power-play opportunity of the game. Ryan Lindgren and Pitlick assisted on the opening goal only for Cole Hults to even the contest up with a power-play goal for the Nittany Lions at 15:39 of the first.

Penn State (17-13-5) added another power-play goal from Nate Sucese at 2:35 of the second period, giving Minnesota a chance to rally when Reedy found the net for his fifth of the year at 15:13 of the second stanza off a feed from Pitlick. A costly final two minutes of the second saw the Nittany Lions pocket a pair of goals with Denis Smirnov scoring at 18:49 and Andrew Sturtz scoring at 19:45.

Mittelstadt brought Minnesota back within one when he added his second power-play goal of the night at 15:00 in the third period with Pitlick and Reedy set up the Gophers rookie. But Penn State shut the door on the comeback when Evan Barratt found the empty net at 19:30.

Mat Robson fell to 7-5-1 on the year in net for the Gophers, making 25 saves. Peyton Jones moved to 16-11-4 for Penn State with 32 saves.

For Mittelstadt, the two-goal performance marked his first career multi-goal game for Minnesota while Pitlick tied his career high with three assists and Reedy notched his second career multi-point game.

Minnesota outshot Penn State 35-30 while the penalty kill went 4-for-6 and the power-play went 2-for-5.

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