OMAHA, Neb. -- The numbers indicate UND did a lot of things well Saturday night.
Shots on goal: UND 47, Omaha 27.
Shot attempts: UND 86, Omaha 35.
Faceoffs: UND 46, Omaha 25.
But UND coach Brad Berry had his eyes on another stat after UND lost 5-4 to Omaha on Saturday night in Baxter Arena.
"You know as well as I do," Berry said, "specialty teams are the difference between winning and losing, especially at the end of the year here. Tonight, we were just average in one of them."
The Fighting Hawks' penchant for taking penalties finally caught up with them as No. 9 Omaha scored three times on five power-play chances to knock off No. 2 UND in front of 1,771 socially distanced fans in Baxter Arena.
Nolan Sullivan and former UND defenseman Jonny Tychonick scored power-play goals in the first period and Kevin Conley scored on the advantage in the third to hand the Fighting Hawks (13-4-1) just their second loss in the last 12 games.
It also served as an important reminder as UND heads down the stretch with lofty aspirations to win a second-straight Penrose Cup and a ninth NCAA national championship: Not even the black jerseys or the good-luck charm dogs can save them from an off night on special teams.
"Where we get into trouble is penalty trouble," UND alternate captain Matt Kiersted said. "It was big last night. Tonight, it kind of cost us a little bit, too. I think five-on-five, we kind of dominated. We were getting our chances. But where we ran into trouble was getting penalties."
The Fighting Hawks still have all of their goals in front of them.
They control their own destiny in the chase for the Penrose Cup as National Collegiate Hockey Conference champions, though the route there won't be easy.
UND plays Omaha four times and Denver twice to end the regular season. UND is 3-3 against those teams this season. Minnesota Duluth and St. Cloud State are tied for second, five points back, but with one extra game to play. The next five games for the Bulldogs and Huskies are against Miami, Western Michigan and Colorado College, the league's bottom three teams.
"There are a lot of teams there that can vie for it," Berry said. "The biggest thing is us controlling our own destiny. We've got five of our last six at home. It doesn't guarantee you wins, but it gives you a chance to play in a home environment that we've had success in."
UND will need to stay out of penalty trouble, though.
The Fighting Hawks, who have been called for six majors this season, are averaging 14 penalty minutes a night. That ranks first in the NCHC and third nationally.
They've largely avoided consequences because the penalty kill has been outstanding. UND killed off 47 of the last 49 opponent power plays entering Saturday night's contest. But the Mavericks finally broke through.
"We want to play with fire and we want to play with pace and physicality," Kiersted said. "I think there's just a line that we've been going over and getting penalties. We've got to find that line and flirt with it but not go over it. We'll be able to play our game five-on-five."
The rest of UND's game was very good Saturday.
Shane Pinto scored two more goals and now has six goals in the last four games. He leads the NCHC with 11 goals and is just three behind Wisconsin's Cole Caufield for the national lead. He also leads the NCHC in points with 23, just five behind the national leaders, Caufield and Quinnipiac's Odeen Tufto.
Jordan Kawaguchi had two assists and is the NCHC's leader in assists with 16. He is tied for second in points behind Pinto with 21.
Jasper Weatherby and Ethan Frisch also scored for UND, which had 19 shots on goal in the first, 10 in the second and 18 in the third against Maverick netminder Isaiah Saville (43 saves).
"I thought we played well for 40 minutes. . . not so good for the first 20 minutes," Berry said. "I thought we spotted that team some goals early on and we had to play from behind, which we haven't done a lot this year. In saying that, I thought we battled hard. We played well from behind. We had our chances. We had enough chances to try to win this thing. But you can't give up that many goals, especially early. And any time you give up three power-play goals, I don't think you're going to win many games."
The first goal of the game has been telling this season.
UND is now 12-0 when it scores first and 1-4-1 when it gives up the first goal.
On Saturday, Maverick forward Chayse Primeau got behind UND defenseman Josh Rieger for a clean breakaway and scored on his backhand 8:29 into the first to give Omaha that crucial early lead. Omaha then used power-play goals by Sullivan and Tychonick to take a 3-2 lead after the first period.
"Our penalty kill has been really good," Berry said. "It's been outstanding. Tonight, it was average."
Kiersted said: "I think we've got to be harder around our net. That was the case (Friday) night as well. (Adam Scheel) came up with some big saves around the front of the net. We just need to be harder around our net, boxing out guys, grabbing sticks. That's probably the biggest issue there, bearing down in front of the net and tying guys up."
UND twice cut the deficit to one goal in the third period, but couldn't get the tying goal.
"The good part is our guys battled," Berry said. "They battled extremely hard. Putting up 47 shots, their goalie had to make a bunch of saves and he did. Our battle level was high and we made it a game and came back and almost tied it at the end. It's one of those things where you can't spot those goals early."
UND has next weekend off.
"We've got to make the most of it," Berry said. "We've got to get sharp in the areas we need to and make a run here."
Five of the last six regular-season games will be in Ralph Engelstad Arena, where UND is 22-1 in the last 23 games. It has one road game left -- back in Baxter Arena, where UND has already played 12 times this season.
"Playing at The Ralph, to be honest, I wouldn't want to play anywhere else in the world," Kiersted said. "Going back home and having weekends at home is going to be huge for us. We've basically been on the road all year."