If it was possible for the same player to earn first, second and third stars of the night, Ludvig Persson would’ve taken all three honors.
Persson recorded 50 saves and turned all three shootout attempts he faced aside as Miami skated to a 2-2 tie with No. 7 Minn.-Duluth at Amsoil Arena on Saturday.
The RedHawks (4-16-2) won the shootout, earning a second league point.
Six of the shots Persson stopped were in 3-on-3 overtime, and two minutes of that were 4-on-3 in favor of the Bulldogs because of a Miami penalty.
That snaps a four-game losing streak for the RedHawks, but they are still winless in their last five.
RECAP: Minn.-Duluth (12-8-2) opened the scoring at 14:01 of the first period when a loose puck trickled to Jesse Jacques on the left side of goal, and he backhanded it from a nearly-impossible angle into the far side of the net.
Miami tied it with 8:49 left in the middle frame when Nick Donato stepped into a shot from the right point, and Matthew Barbolini tipped it home from the inside edge of the faceoff circle.
Donato wound up and ripped one from the high slot that hit a body and found the stick of Thomas Daskas on the edge of the crease, and Daskas roofed to give the RedHawks a 2-1 lead 2:43 later.
But with 1:38 left in regulation, Kobe Roth blast a slapshot from the high slot that hit a body and snuck through Persson.
Only Red Savage scored among the six skaters in the shootout. He juked from the right side and went far post to conclude the second round, and Persson shut down Roth to seal it.
STATS: Persson’s save total is the second-highest of his career. His most? That would be 55, also at Duluth on Feb. 6, 2021 in a 3-1 loss.
The third UMD goal was an empty netter, so Persson finished 55-of-57 in that game.
— Donato, a freshman who had played just six previous games, led the RedHawks with two points, both on assists. He had one point six games entering Saturday.
— Daskas netted his third of the season and his first since Nov. 5 at Omaha.
Red Savage and P.J. Fletcher both recorded an assist, extending their points streaks to three games, and Barbolini also added a helper, tying him with defenseman Derek Daschke for second on the team in points with 14.
The RedHawks failed to score on the power play for the third time in four games, going 1-for-17 in that span. They had just one opportunity in this game, and that was on a UMD unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
THOUGHTS: We hear about the proverbial stealing a game by a hot goaltender, but this two levels above that.
Persson turned aside several A-plus chances, plus all three shootout opportunities. Not only that he faced six overtime shots, including several on a 4-on-3.
Making this outing even more impressive is that it came from nowhere.
Persson certainly isn’t the main reason Miami is having such a bad season, but he is riding a sophomore slump and had allowed at least four goals in eight straight starts. His save percentage was .882 entering Saturday and rose to .889 following this performance.
We know Persson has a ton of talent. We saw last year what he’s capable of. Quality goaltending can make a struggling team a lot better, and hopefully Persson is returning his freshman form.
He didn’t steal a win but he certainly stole the tie and two key league points.
— The shot differential was amazing. It was 11-1, 14-2 (end of one), 26-6, 33-8 (end of two) and after 6-0 in overtime, the final count was 52-17. Sadly, it’s not the first time this season Miami has been outshot by more than a 3-to-1 clip, as Denver put 48 shots on net to the RedHawks’ 15 at Magness Arena on Nov. 20.
Not much more to say, except Miami has to have more extra attacker goals allowed than any other team on the planet the past decade-plus.
LINEUP CHANGES: None. A rarity for sure.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Two different ways to look at this.
Choice A: Be happy.
Persson is coming around. Red Savage has emerged as a true stud and is now keying the top line. Donato is forcing himself into the lineup with his missile of a shot. Barbolini and Fletcher have become regular points producers.
Choice B: Be skeptical.
Fifty-two shots allowed?! No line beyond Savage-Fletcher-Barbolini? Still a winless streak. Still have four wins in 22 games. Murderer’s row schedule the next seven weeks. Where’s the booze?
The correct answer: Both A and B.