CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — Boston University is not known for giving up short-handed goals, unless of course they are playing their archrival, Boston College.
For the second straight night the No. 2 Terriers allowed a short-handed tally to stifle their momentum, this time in a 5-2 loss to the No. 8 Eagles that gave BC the weekend sweep of the high-profile series.
In the last 23 months, the Terriers have allowed just five short-handed goals. Four of them were scored by the Eagles, including Chris Kreider’s tally at 8:05 of the second period after BU had scored minutes earlier to close the gap to 3-2 and were again threatening on the power play.
Adding insult to injury, BC’s Steven Whitney scored just seconds after a BU power play expired in the third period to put the game out of reach.
“The killer goals were the two short-handed goals,” said BU coach Jack Parker, referring to the Kreider shorty and Whitney’s tally immediately after the penalty kill. “It’s nice plays by [BC] but you can’t let guys [score those goals]. We gave up two bad goals.”
Despite the final score, Saturday’s rematch was far more entertaining and well-played than Friday’s opener in which the Eagles (11-5-0, 9-4-0 Hockey East) jumped out to a 6-1 lead before a sloppy third period by both sides led to a 9-5 BC win.
On Saturday, both teams had zip from the opening and both played physical throughout the 60 minutes. The difference at times was BC’s speed, where they seemed to be able to find another speed and create room for themselves that led to grade ‘A’ chances.
“We expected BU to be much different than they were last night and they were,” said BC coach Jerry York. “I thought we really had some jump and were on top of our game for the first two periods. BU turned them game in their favor and then we got a huge goal from Stevie Whitney and I thought that was the turning point in the game.”
The Terriers (7-3-5, 5-3-4 Hockey East) opened the scoring less than four minutes into the game when Matt Nieto netted his fourth goal of the season. David Warsofsky cycled the puck deep and attempted a feed that banked of BU’s Alex Chiasson and right onto Nieto’s stick as he faced an empty net.
BC responded at 11:46 when Cam Atkinson scored his team-best 14th goal of the year, finishing off a perfect tic-tac-toe passing play with linemates Brian Gibbons and Joe Whitney.
In the second, the Eagles struck twice early. Brian Dumoulin feathered a wrist shot through a perfect Gibbons feed to give BC its first lead at 3:17. Less than a minute and a half later, Whitney scored his first of two goals on the night, skating down the left wing a blasting a shot over BU netminder Kieran Millan’s (29 saves) left shoulder.
BU responded quickly when Joe Pereira poked the rebound of Sahir Gill’s shot past BC netminder John Muse (29 saves) at 5:26. And when Isaac MacLeod was whistled for holding at 7:28, the Terriers looked like they possibly could be on their way to an equalizer.
That’s when Kreider turned the game around with a single play. Pressuring the BU point on the power play, Patch Alber swatted at a loose puck on a BU miscue. At the same time, Kreider turned on the jets and was off to the races.
“[BU] was a little flat-footed and I was lucky because I had a head of steam,” said Kreider. “I talk about that with our goalies all the time that I don’t have the hands to deke, so I just snapped it five-hole.”
In the third, BU had BC on their heels trying to climb back into the game. That was when Muse was at his best, stopping all 12 Terriers shots. And when Whitney got in back of the defense for his second of the night and third of the season with 8:54 remaining, the outcome was decided.
For the Eagles, it is their third straight win and fifth in the last six games. Over that six-game stretch, five of BC’s opponents were nationally ranked. The win gives BC a four-point lead in the Hockey East standings over BU and New Hampshire, which was idle on Saturday but will face Vermont at home on Sunday.
“We’ve had some good periods of hockey or thirty minutes of hockey,” said York. “[This weekend] was a pretty impressive six periods of hockey.”