BOSTON — For Boston University, it seemed like Groundhog Day came about 12 days early tonight.
Just like in the film starring Bill Murray, BU seemed to be repeating the recent past this evening. For the second game in a row, they fell behind 3-0 before pulling it together — only to lose 3-2.
But in another parallel to the movie, the Terriers came a little closer to getting things right this time around.
In front of a crowd of 6,150 at Agganis Arena, third ranked Boston College scored three goals in the first period before hanging on for a 3-2 win over No. 15 Boston University. John Muse stopped 30 shots for the Eagles, while Kieran Millan made 24 saves, including a few gems in the third period. BU co-captain Chris Connolly and BC winger Paul Carey each notched a pair of assists to lead the scorers.
Although the outcome was disappointing for the Terriers, they looked much better than they did in the loss to Merrimack earlier in the week — not to mention losses of 9-5 and 5-2 to their archrival in December.
“The way the game started, I thought we were going to have another embarrassing game in our building like we did last time against them,” Terriers head coach Jack Parker said. “I was very pleased at the turnaround because it’s a difficult thing for a team to do when they’re jumpy and there’s a lot of disconnect out there.
“They came back in the second period and played extremely well, got a couple of goals. But too little too late, and we’re not interested in moral victories. But it’s something we can build on.”
As you’d expect, Eagles coach Jerry York was thrilled with his team’s opening foray and pleased that his players withstood BU’s comeback.
“We really had an excellent start,” York said. “The first period was one of our best all year. We moved pucks really well. I have to give BU a lot of credit. They came back with an outstanding second period themselves to make it a tight, tight game. With us playing really well and up 3-0, there was no quit in them.
“Then the third period was just a battle — good saves by both goaltenders.”
The opening 10 seconds were as bizarre as you could imagine. In a near disaster for the Terriers, a dumped in puck took an odd carom off the boards, leaving winger Chris Kreider with an open net momentarily. Millan managed to get his stick in the way just in time to save a goal, while Kreider crashed into the boards and was shaken up.
Despite looking OK for the first few minutes, BU fell behind 1-0 at 4:38. Paul Carey raced in on the left wing before dishing to Steven Whitney in the slot. His 18-foot wrist shot beat Millan.
Some bad puck luck cost BU dearly midway through the period.
Shorthanded, defenseman David Warsofsky carried the puck toward the BC zone, only to have his pass bounce off of a skate to set up an Eagle counterattack. Making matters worse, BU’s other defenseman was leaving the ice at the time, and BC almost had a three-on-zero breakaway. Adam Clendening hustled off the bench to give Millan some help, but the three Eagle forwards picked him apart with passes before Brian Gibbons buried it.
BU almost got one back at the 13-minute mark, thanks to a Wade Megan wraparound following a muddle of players whacking at the puck in the crease. Muse made a last-ditch stick save.
“I actually lost the puck; I thought it was in the scrum,” Muse said. “It ended up behind the net. He made a good quick play to put it in front. It almost went in.”
When Brian Dumoulin’s power-play wrist shot sailed through a screen and caught the net at 16:25, it looked like it could be a very long night for the Terriers. Instead, they regrouped and played a terrific second period. At 3:35, Alex Chiasson made a pass from behind the net to set up freshman Garrett Noonan crashing the net for a one-timer and his first collegiate goal.
On a power play at 11:01, Chris Connolly made a pass from the left point to Warsofksy at the right point, and his slapper beat Muse high glove side.
The third period was dominated by Muse and Millan. BC had the better of the opportunities, but Millan looked fabulous. With Paul Carey alone on the doorstep at 13:09, Millan made a great pad save. But the save of the night came on a BC 2-on-1, when Jimmy Hayes’s shot was ticketed for the net. Millan flashed the glove and made a spectacular save to keep BU in it for the last few minutes.
The Terriers only had a few nominal chances, however, and that was the game.
Afterward, Parker pondered the team’s trend of falling behind before playing their best. “It’s something to do with confidence, I think. It’s almost, ‘Well, the game is over now, so now we’ll go play hard.’ But it was a little different tonight. I don’t think that we weren’t ready to play.”
BU (10-7-6) now gets ready to play at New Hampshire on Saturday night, while BC (16-6-0) hosts Massachusetts-Lowell.