DETROIT — The man who almost got benched in overtime shook off missing the goal he should have scored, collected the puck that never should have reached him, and shot it into the Spartan goal for the game winner. Michigan 3, Michigan State 2.

Kevin Lynch might have played just five seconds of good hockey on Saturday, but he did it in the final five seconds, and that’s what matters.

But the junior forward almost didn’t get the chance.

“I can tell you, there were times in the third period I thought about not putting him out in the overtime,” said Michigan coach Red Berenson. “That line got caught in their own zone and they got in trouble. And I thought, I don’t know if I can trust them in the overtime.

“I know that Kevin’s had a good record against Michigan State. I know he’s had a good record at Joe Louis. They got one shift in overtime, and bingo. So you never know.”

Here’s how Lynch’s roller-coaster weekend went:

On Friday, he scored a goal in Michigan’s losing effort in East Lansing, his first since the finals of the Great Lakes Invitational in December. Against Michigan State. Before that, Lynch hadn’t scored since Dec. 9. Against Michigan State.

Notice a pattern? Four of Lynch’s six goals this season have come against the Spartans. The other two also came against in-state teams: Western Michigan and Northern Michigan.

Call it the Kevin Lynch State Stimulus Package.

“I’ve been fortunate to get points when I play (Michigan State),” said Lynch, a native of Grosse Pointe, Mich. “It’s just that rivalry that gets me going.”

On Saturday, Lynch slashed his finger open in warm-ups while trying to clear snow off his skates. The night got progressively worse from there. Turnovers, poor defense and an inability to get the puck out of Michigan’s zone plagued Lynch’s line in regulation.

The line, completed by sophomore forward Derek DeBlois and the other Lynch — Travis, a freshman forward — typically creates few goal-scoring chances but plays a scrappy defensive style. Saturday’s game was uncharacteristically sloppy, and Berenson nearly sidelined them for the overtime period.

Only Kevin Lynch’s track record stopped him.

Lynch’s history in clutch situations belies his role on the team. He was expected to be a scorer when he arrived at Michigan, but has struggled to consistently find the back of the net. Berenson said he has kept his spot in the lineup because he is a hard worker who, because of his defensive effort, remains a plus player.

“He knows it hasn’t been the season that maybe he thought it might be offensively,” Berenson said earlier in the week. “And so, if he’s going to help our team, here’s how you can help the team: you don’t have to score, but you have to work.”

Somehow, Lynch always seems to emerge from hibernation in pressure situations.

In the Great Lakes Invitational, Lynch was there. He scored the game-tying goal with one minute left in regulation. The Wolverines beat Sparty in overtime.

Lynch was there in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last year. He put in the game-winner against Nebraska-Omaha in overtime to give Michigan the 3-2 win.

And Lynch was there in the second round of the NCAA Tournament two years ago, though his overtime goal against No. 1 Miami (Ohio) was overturned by the officials, who deemed that the goalie had covered the puck.

On Saturday, Lynch appeared to strike late-game gold once again. He had a backhand look from near point-blank range, but he sent it wide.

He didn’t have to wait long for another chance. After the Spartans cleared the puck out of the zone, DeBlois flipped the puck past the blue line in front of Michigan State goalie Will Yanakeff. Spartan defenseman Matt Crandell went down to a knee to collect the slow bouncing pass, but somehow, the puck slid under his stick, through his legs and right to Lynch.

Yanakeff, expecting Crandell to make the routine play, was out of position, and Lynch capitalized.

Crandell’s mistake, more than anything Lynch did, created the goal. But the tally was more than enough to erase the memory of a game that was literally painful for Lynch. The man who started the game by cutting his finger ended it by giving Michigan State the unkindest cut of all.

“I was battling,” Lynch said. “I was battling through that. And I wasn’t having a great game, so that kind of made it a little bit better.”

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