Down 1-0, Gardiner started out the second period with a "pizza" (his words) that the Mavericks took the other way for a two-on-none break. With a 2-0 hole looming, Gardiner, the Badgers best skater, tore off down the ice and got a stick on the potential shot, ruining the Mavericks best chance of the night.
Gardiner scored the go-ahead goal later in the period with a beautiful wrist shot from the middle of the slot.
Scott Gudmandson made 37 saves and the Badgers scored three goals in the second period.
Despite just a 14-13 edge on shots, the Badgers controlled play for most of the opening stanza. The Badgers saw a chance to take an early lead, as Jordy Murray (Faribault, Minn.) appeared to poke a puck into the net, but the goal was waived off as Minnesota State goaltender Phil Cook had frozen the puck.
Late in the period, Minnesota State (10-10-5, 4-10-3 WCHA) went on the power play. They saw the reverse scenario play out on their end, as a Maverick goal was waived off after video review. However, MSU still capitalized on the man advantage. Off the resulting faceoff they crashed the net, and Andrew Sackrison scored to give Minnesota State a 1-0 lead at 19:12 of the first period.
The second period was much kinder to the Badgers. Podge Turnbull (Heyward, Wis.) got the scoring started for UW, 2:47 into the period. Justin Schultz (West Kelowna, B.C.) took the puck to the net and shot, and Turnbull hammered home the rebound to tie the game at one.
Then, Gardiner (Minnetonka, Minn.) scored a power-play goal to give Wisconsin the lead for good. Gardiner grabbed the puck off a rebound, found space to shoot, and ringed in a shot that deflected off both goalposts.
The Badgers added another tally late in the second period. With the Badgers on an odd-man rush, defenseman Craig Johnson (Waupaca, Wis.) found Michael Mersch (Park Ridge, Ill.) in front of the crease. Mersch lit the lamp following up his own blocked shot to extend the Badger lead to 3-1 after two periods.
The Badgers held onto their lead through the third period. Minnesota State had numerous chances on net, outshooting Wisconsin 17-6 in the period. Mike Louwerse cut the deficit to 3-2, scoring on a slapshot from the top point. However, Scott Gudmandson (Sherwood Park, Alberta) made numerous big saves, and Wisconsin prevailed.
Wisconsin finished 1-for-3 on the power play, while Minnesota State was 1-for-4. The Badgers were outshot 39-30 for the game.
Scott Gudmandson got the victory for Wisconsin, making 37 stops and improving his record to 12-6-1. Minnesota State's Phil Cook made 27 saves but fell to 8-9-3.
The Badgers will try for the sweep of Minnesota State tomorrow night at the Kohl Center. The puck drops at 7 p.m. (CT).