In two weeks, Michigan State had plunged from No. 6 in the country to No. 11 and then to No. 20 with three straight shutout losses entering Thursday's quarterfinal match at home against Penn State in the Big Ten men's tournament.
The Spartans still couldn't score but advanced thanks to a 4-3 win in a shootout after their game ended 0-0.
Michigan State goalkeeper Chris Austin stopped the last two attempts from Stephen Reihner and Daniel Martini to win the game.
"We played well, brought it together and really stepped up, hustled and had a lot of confidence throughout the game," Austin said.
The other two ranked Big Ten teams in action Thursday in East Lansing both won.
No. 16 Northwestern used two David Roth goals to defeat Wisconsin, 3-1, and No. 18 Ohio State beat Michigan, 1-0, on Xavier Balc's first-half volley.
Northwestern 3 Wisconsin 1
NU-Roth (Blades) 52
NU-Blades (Bellizzi) 66
Ohio State 1 Michigan 0
Michigan State 0 Penn State 0
(Michigan State wins 4-3 on penalties.)