ORONO, Maine — Martin Kariya has been a key to the Maine power play all season. Most of his power play points had come on assists this year, but he was the one being set up on Thursday.
Kariya scored two goals with the man advantage for the Black Bears (21-9-7) in a 7-3 rout of Boston College (18-17-2) in Game 1 of their Hockey East Quarterfinal series at Alfond Arena.
“They were really easy goals for me to score,” Kariya said after the game. “We really know we [each other] are and we cover really well. Normally Mike [Schutte] is in front of the net, but he might have been off, so I filled for him.”
Kariya found himself wide open for the first power-play goal at 16:02 of the first period. A Peter Metcalf shot at the point was stopped by BC goalie Tim Kelleher at the top of the crease, but the puck squirted through his pads. Kariya was at the right side of the net, and swept the rebound in with a backhand to give Maine a 3-1 lead.
Kariya’s second was set after he won the offensive zone faceoff back to Metcalf. Metcalf fed Michael Schutte moving toward the left-wing boards, and he caught Kariya streaking to the net for an easy forehand goal from in front at 1:55 of the second, only six seconds into Maine’s second power play of the game, making it 4-1.
“Maine just wore us out,” BC coach Jerry York said. “They got us running around in the defensive zone at times, and they really took advantage.”
BC was missing two of its best defensemen, J.D. Forrest and John Adams, with an arm injury and a concussion, respectively. Both will miss the remainder of the series. Eagle assistant captain Ales Dolinar moved to the blue line to help ease the strain. He was one of only five BC defenseman in uniform.
Forward Dave Spina was injured in the first period Thursday, and is questionable for tomorrow.
“Without question [missing Forrest and Adams] hurt, but its nothing new for us,” BC forward Ned Havern said. “We’ve had a bunch of injuries this year. J.D. and John are both exceptional, but we have some other defensemen that are excellent.”
The Black Bears controlled play in the first few minutes of the game, but Kelleher kept them off the board until the Eagles got one against the run of play to go ahead.
Dolinar jumped up in the play after picking off a pass, creating a three-on-one. He got both the defenseman and Maine goalie Mike Morrison to commit to him, leaving Ryan Murphy wide open in the left slot. Murphy buried the feed for his seventh of the year at 5:57.
Maine was able to equalize on a Brett Peterson turnover 2:58 later. Peterson fanned on a clearing pass near the blue line as he was leaving the ice for a change as the last man back. That sprung John Ronan and Ben Murphy on a two-on-none break. Ronan feed Murphy streaking down the right wing and Murphy wristed it by Kelleher to tie the score.
Colin Shields scored his 26th goal of the year at 11:13 to put the Black Bears up 2-1. His slap shot from the right faceoff dot banked of the left post and in, beating Kelleher low to the stick side.
Kariya’s two power play goals extended the lead to 4-1. Then Gray Shaneberger netted his sixth of the year on a rebound at 15:55 to give Maine a 5-1 advantage after two.
But the Eagles quickly closed the gap in the third. Ben Eaves scored his 13th only 20 seconds into the third period to cut the lead to 5-2. Then Havern took advantage of a lucky break on the power play.
“We made out last change on the power play,” Havern said. The first 1:20 of the power play generated no chances. “One of their defenseman fell inside the zone and we had four guys coming up the ice. Walker hit me coming right up the wing. I just tried to get a low shot through traffic.”
The partial screen shot beat Morrison five-hole and made the score 5-3 at 4:30.
But Chris Heisten put the game away just 39 seconds later, and got a huge monkey of his back. The junior has missed significant time this season with numerous injuries and hadn’t scored a goal since Feb. 4, 2001.
“That’s the longest slump of my life,” Heisten said. “It’s good to help the team win in the playoffs. It’s a whole new season.”
A Ben Murphy check took the puck away from Anthony D’Arpino. Ronan kept it in the zone and fired a slapshot from the left point. Heisten got a stick on it in front.
“A goal like that always takes the wind out of [the other team's] sails when they’re sparking a comeback like that,” Heisten said. “We came out slow to begin the third, but we got it going after that.”
Lucas Lawson’s seventh goal in as many games at 10:17 was the final nail in the coffin.
“I thought the last few weekends prepared us well for the playoffs,” Maine interim head coach Tim Whitehead said. “Obviously, it’s only one game, and Boston College certainly showed that they weren’t going to give up, no matter what the score.”
Havern said that BC generated offense, but didn’t get the puck to the net.
“We generated a lot of offense,” Havern said. “When we buzz down low and get on their defensemen, we generate a lot of chances. A couple times in the game, we had them running around.”
BC had many good chances, but they fired wide or fanned more often than they got the puck on goal.
Kariya said Maine needs to be ready for Game 2.
“If they don’t win tomorrow, it’s their last game,” he said. “So we’re expecting a tough one.”
The win improved Maine’s all-time record in Hockey East Quarterfinal games at home to 20 wins and no losses.
Maine can end the season of the defending national champions and advance to the FleetCenter and the Hockey East Championships with a win in Game 2 tomorrow night at 7 p.m. A Boston College win would force a third and deciding game on Saturday.