BOSTON — Boston University dug itself a 2-0 hole, but rallied with four straight goals, including two on the power play, and then withstood a late rally to defeat Northeastern, 4-3, in front of 4,746 at Matthews Arena on Friday.
Wade Megan scored twice while Terriers’ goaltender Kieran Millan made 31 saves to earn the win and propel BU (12-6-1, 10-4-1 Hockey East) two points in front of Boston College, which lost 4-0 to Massachusetts on Friday, for first place in Hockey East.
The game featured an up-tempo opening period in which the Huskies jumped out to a 2-0 lead, followed by two frames where BU grabbed control and, eventually, took the lead.
“It was an unbelievably exciting hockey game,” said BU coach Jack Parker. “The first period was the fastest period we’ve been involved in all season long.”
Northeastern jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the wild first period in which the Huskies outshot BU, 19-13.
Alex Tuckerman got the Huskies on the board at 18:38 when he poked home the rebound of a Drew Ellement shot.
Just 55 seconds later, NU struck again. BU’s Chris Connolly attempted to clear the zone and hit Garrett Vermeersch’s leg. The puck bounced right to rookie Ludwig Karlsson, who wristed a shot past Millan for the 2-0 lead.
“I was wondering how my team would react after [allowing late goals],” said Parker. “We don’t like to give up goals in the final three minutes of a period, but I loved the way we reacted in the second period.”
That explosive reaction, in which BU scored three times in a 3:28 span, gave the Terriers a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
Adam Clendening fired a wrister through traffic at 8:23 that beat Northeastern goaltender Chris Rawlings (26 saves) glove side to close the gap to 2-1.
Then 57 seconds later, BU capitalized on a turnover by Justin Daniels in back of the net as Ryan Santana fed Megan for his ninth goal of the season at 9:20.
At 10:41, Northeastern rookie Josh Manson’s skates left the ice and his check targeted the head of a BU player, earning him a five-minute major and game misconduct. BU wasted little time capitalizing.
Evan Rodriguez tipped Alexx Privitera’s shot from the left point past Rawlings at 11:51 to give BU the lead at 3-2. It was Rodriguez’s first collegiate goal.
In the third, penalties again cost the Huskies as BU expanded the lead on the power play when Megan one-timed home a feed from Alex Chiasson at 1:52.
Huskies’ head coach Jim Madigan said that his team’s emotion to play its cross-town rival contributed to the lack of discipline and the costly penalties.
“There’s an intersection of [emotions and discipline],” said Madigan. “You’ve got to be able to manage your emotion and you’ve got to be able to play disciplined. It’s the key to any team’s success.”
Late in the game, Northeastern actually had the chance to capitalize on BU penalties. Both Privitera and Yasin Cisse were both sent off at 9:29 for crosschecking, giving the Huskies a two-man advantage for two full minutes.
That power play, though, struggled generating only one shot on goal, an Anthony Bitetto one-timer that Millan stretched across the crease to stop.
The Huskies finally did net a power-play goal late as Karlsson scored his second of the game with 3:07 remaining, but that was as close as NU would get.
The loss ends an eight-game (7-0-1) unbeaten streak for Northeastern (8-8-3 overall), but more importantly drops them to 4-8-2 in Hockey East, good for sole possession of eighth place.
The team’s lack of league success isn’t something lost on Madigan.
“Every Hockey East game from here on in is like a game 7,” Madigan said. “We put ourselves in a hole in the first half in Hockey East. We don’t have any luxury; we’ve got to get points.”