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Need the empty netters

How tough will it be to get up for another game against Denver after last night's performance?

We'll see tonight after Wisconsin gave away a 3-2 lead with 14.4 seconds left in the third period and then let in the game-winner 41 seconds into overtime to fall to the Pioneers 4-3.

The Badgers now three straight games have held a late one goal lead yet have been unable to knock in an empty net goal with under a minute left. Patrick Johnson in game one at Minnesota, Blake Geoffrion in game two, then last night Andy Bombach with under a minute left. The Badgers were unscathed by this against Minnesota, but last night it came back to haunt them.

Amazingly, Wisconsin's tournament status improved after the loss to Denver, as the Badgers moved up from 15 to 14 in the PairWise rankings. Historically, the top 14 teams in the PairWise get into the tournament, with the other two spots going to the winners of the Atlantic Hockey and CHA postseason tournaments. Wisconsin was helped by Minnesota's loss to CC, Ohio State's loss to Michigan, and BC's loss to UNH. The not-so-educated Badger fans of course kept groaning when they showed the Michigan/OSU game on the scoreboard last night with the Wolverines beating up on the Buckeyes. Badger fans should root for Michigan to win every game the rest of the way, as Wisconsin beat the Wolverines, tied for second in the PairWise, earlier this season. Furthermore, Ohio State is right behind Wisconsin, so the Badgers need the Buckeyes to keep losing.

Nonetheless, Wisconsin failed to get an important conference win against first place Denver, and fell to three points behind the Pioneers with five games left. A North Dakota OT win against Alaska-Anchorage last night kept the Sioux on pace with Denver.

Tune into tonight's series finale on the WSUM sports stream at 6:45 PM CT.