Junior Ryan Dzingel and freshman Nick Schilkey helped the Buckeyes twice rally from deficits in the third against a team that had won five straight and had allowed one goal in each of the previous four.
It was a deserved comeback because the Buckeyes had a 15-3 shot advantage in the period.
"The best period of the year, for sure, especially against the best team in the country," Ohio State coach Steve Rohlik said. "It was exciting as a coach to sit back and basically, ‘Next man up, next line up.'
"We took a big step tonight but we have to build on that. That's the exciting part. We haven't seen the best of our team yet and if we can go out and play 60 minutes like we did there in the third period and overtime we're a pretty good hockey team."
The Buckeyes won the shootout 1-0 with Schilkey scoring in the first round and freshman goalie Christian Frey stopping all three Minnesota shooters. OSU has won four straight shootouts, all after 2-2 scores in regulation and overtime.
And to think that the Buckeyes (15-12-5, 5-8-5-4 Big Ten) had several great chances to win in overtime but Dzingel, the top scorer in the conference, was denied twice by Adam Wilcox, the best goalie in the Big Ten.
The first chance came with 3½ minutes left when Dzingel fired from point-blank range after a pass from Schilkey. Then with 1:33 to play, Schilkey sprung Dzingel on a breakaway.
Dzingel tried to stuff the puck five-hole and raised his stick thinking the puck had crossed the line but Wilcox had it squeezed between his pads.
"I was hoping it went in so I put my hands up," Dzingel said. "Late in the game (Wilcox) made a couple of huge stops on me. The boys picked me up in the shootout so I thank them for that."
Wilcox finished with 41 saves for the Golden Gophers (24-4-6, 13-2-3-0).
"He was good," Minnesota coach Don Lucia said. "He made a couple of huge saves. We made a couple of gigantic mistakes. That is Adam. He covers up the mistakes we made."
Ohio State seniors Curtis Gedig, Alex Lippincott, Travis Statchuk and Alex Szczechura were recognized before the game. The first three were in the starting lineup but Szczechura did not play because of a leg injury.
Minnesota set out quickly to spoil the party when Kyle Rau scored on the power play at 2:32 of the first. It was the sixth goal allowed by the OSU penalty kill in nine attempts and also marked the third straight game the Buckeyes trailed early.
Unlike a 4-3 loss to Michigan on Sunday and 5-1 defeat Friday to the Gophers, the Buckeyes didn't let the deficit get any bigger.
"Our guys stayed with the way we needed to play," Rohlik said. "I think that's something we got away from a little bit last night. Our guys believed in each other and it showed. We kept getting better as the game went on."
It helped that Frey was on his game. He had made six straight starts (4-0-2) before an open weekend that was followed by Rohlik electing to play freshman Matt Tomkins both games last weekend vs. Michigan.
Frey returned the net Friday but was pulled after stopping 16 of 20 shots.
"He had a little time off. He looked a little rusty last night," Rohlik said.
Frey made 30 saves, including 15 in the second, to allow the Buckeyes to get the equalizer in the third while on the power play.
The Buckeyes pressed the attack and Dzingel skated out of the right corner and drilled a slapper for his 18th goal but first in seven games at 2:31.
"I've been frustrated for a little while," he said. "I've been talking to coach. You can't let it seep into your game."
Before the score had finished being announced the Gophers got a gift goal off the skate of Ohio State freshman defenseman Josh Healey 24 seconds later. Gabe Guertler was credited with the goal but OSU was not deterred.
Schilkey tied the game at 2 off a scrum in front at 16:10. He got his 11th after the initial shot by Dzingel.
"I thought that Dzingel really raised his game tonight and was a real factor in the third period, and that is what you expect the leading scorer in the Big Ten to do," Lucia said. "As the game went on … we looked a little bit tired. It might have been some of the specialty teams and guys got a little too much ice time."
In the end, it was first-year players Schilkey, Frey, Healey, forward David Gust and defenseman Drew Brevig, who assisted on the first goal, that helped make sure the seniors left Value City Arena in style.
"I was grateful," Gedig said. "It couldn't have gone any better. (The freshmen) were amazing tonight. They're all thanking us for the four years we put in."
The Buckeyes complete the regular season March 14-15 with their first trip to Penn State before the Big Ten tournament starts March 20 in Saint Paul, Minn.