Notre Dame’s St. Louis connection came up big on Saturday afternoon at Joe Louis Arena as Yan Stastny scored twice and Connor Dunlop got the game-winning goal with 4:07 left to give the Irish a 3-2 win over Wayne State in Detroit. Neil Komadoski, Notre Dame’s third St. Louis native set up Dunlop’s game winner.
Dunlop’s game winner was his first of the season and wasn’t one that will make the highlight reel.
Komadoski was able to get control of the puck at the top of the right-wing circle. His shot on Wayne State’s David Guerrera was stopped but the rebound went to the right side of the goal. There, Rob Globke managed to get a shot on Guerrera as he was being tackled by a Wayne State defenseman. The puck found its way through the Warrior goaltender and just laid in the crease. Dunlop backhanded it in to give the Irish the 3-2 lead.
“It was a relief to get that goal,” said Dunlop. “First the game was tied and time was running out. Secondly, it finally got the monkey off my back to finally get that first goal. Neil (Komadoski) made a great play to get in front and Robby (Globke) was able to get a shot off. I just cleaned up the garbage. I’ll take it. Hopefully getting an ugly one like that will get me going for the second half of the season.
Before Dunlop scored that third goal, the game had been pretty much Stastny versus the Wayne State power play as both had two goals in the game.
Stastny, who extended his current scoring streak to four games (3-4-7) with the two goals, gave Notre Dame the 1-0 first-period lead at 16:21 on a burst through the middle. Defenseman Evan Nielsen (seven points in his last three games) found Stastny streaking through center ice and fed him the puck. Stastny split the defense and drilled a quick wrist shot through Guerrera’s pads.
“Evan made a great play off the boards to get me the puck,” said Stastny. “I had a lot of speed going through the middle and split the defense. I took a quick shot that went through his legs.
The Irish controlled the play in the first period outshooting Wayne State 13-3, but led just 1-0.
That lead didn’t last long as Wayne State scored the first of two power-play goals on the night just 40 seconds into the second period..
Defenseman Tyler Kindle’s blast from the right point appeared to deflect past a screened Morgan Cey in the Notre Dame goal for Kindle’s second of the season for a 1-1 tie.
Stastny got the Irish the lead back at 9:36 as the sophomore center duplicated his first goal with an outstanding one-on-one effort.
Tim Wallace and John Wroblewski battled for the puck along the left wing boards at center ice with Wroblewski coming away with the puck. He pushed the puck ahead to Stastny at the Wayne State blue line and he did the rest.
“The second goal was identical to the first. Wrobo (Wroblewski) pushed it to me as I came through center. I went around the defense and tucked the puck under the goalie’s pads.” explained Stastny.
The goal was Stastny’s eighth of the season and gave the Irish a 2-1 lead.
“Yan’s goals were two great individual efforts. It’s great to have him playing well,” said head coach Dave Poulin.
That lead lasted until 19:47 when Wayne State’s power play evened the game at 2-2. Left wing Nathan Rosychuk redirected Marc St. Jean’s shot from the right point past Cey for his fourth goal of the season and sent the two teams into the intermission with a 2-2 tie.
The teams traded shots throughout the third period, but Cey and Guerrera held the team’s at bay until Dunlop broke through for the game winner.
Notre Dame outshot Wayne State 33-25 in the game. Cey finished with 23 saves while Guerrera had 30 on the afternoon.
The win, the first for the Irish at Joe Louis Arena since the 1981-82 CCHA semifinals (a span of eight games) gives Notre Dame a three-game winning streak and improves them to 8-6-2 on the season. The loss drops Wayne State to 5-10-0 overall.
“This wasn’t a game that we took lightly,” said Dunlop. “We came in here expecting to win. Having a three-game winning streak going into the break should really give us a boost for the second half of the season.”