BOSTON — No. 6 Massachusetts-Lowell got two goals from rookie phenom Scott Wilson, an incredible 39-save performance by goaltender Doug Carr and a bend-but-don’t-break performance from its defense in the third as the River Hawks avenged a Friday loss, splitting a weekend series with No. 2 Boston University with a 4-2 victory at Agganis Arena on Saturday.
The River Hawks (20-9-0, 15-8-0 Hockey East), with the win, leapfrogged past BU (18-11-1, 14-8-1 Hockey East) into second place in Hockey East, one point behind first-place Boston College with two weekends to play.
Lowell, coming off a five-win season a year ago, reached the 20-win mark for just the third time in the last 10 years and seventh time in 20 seasons.
The victory was keyed by Lowell’s opportunistic offense which never trailed in the night despite being outshot, 41-30, and a defense that blocked shot after shot, finishing the game with 21 blocks in total.
The River Hawks also held the potent BU offense to just two goals, a night after allowing a season high seven in a 7-4 loss.
“We were better defensively,” said Lowell head coach Norm Bazin. “If you saw last night’s game, we got beat to the net front of two goals and that was something we focused on to shore up.”
The River Hawks defense played its best at a crucial time. After grabbing a 4-1 lead on a Chad Ruhwedel goal with 10:58 remaining, the Terriers threw everything and the kitchen sink at Carr, attempting a total of 44 shots in the third, 22 of which reached the net with only one – a Max Nicastro power-play goal – finding the back of the net.
“When you attempt 44 shots in the third period and don’t win, that’s a testament to the other team bending and not breaking,” said BU head coach Jack Parker. “I loved my team tonight.”
The second period of the game was marked by two major turning points.
After Wilson spotted Lowell the lead at 3:27 of the first on a blast from the point and Ross Gaudet evened the game at 5:03 of the second, Lowell found itself behind the 8-ball with heavy pressure from the Terriers.
Then BU’s Sahir Gill was assessed a five-minute major and game misconduct for hitting from behind at 11:26 of the second.
Lowell wasted little time to score.
Wilson grabbed his second of the night at 12:17 when he redirected a Ruhwedel shot from the right point. The play was reviewed for a potential high stick, but it was determined Wilson’s stick was below the crossbar.
“We were playing great in the second and then [the major] happened,” said Parker. “We had all kinds of chances until that.”
Late in the frame came the second turning point as Lowell struck off a faceoff in the final minute of the period. Daniel Furlong fired a wrister that appeared to bounce off BU defenseman Adam Clendening and past Millan with 26.2 seconds left to give Lowell a 3-1 lead through two.
After Lowell extended the lead to 4-1 on Ruhwedel’s goal, BU climbed back within two at 12:52 on Nicastro’s power-play marker, the 13th straight game the Terriers have scored with a man advantage.
The Terriers had ample chance to get closer, but misses on empty nets by Ryan Ruikka and Wade Megan in the game’s final five minutes gave the River Hawks the hard-fought win.
The win earns Lowell the weekend split as well as the season series over BU, having won an early-season game, 7-1, at Lowell. It was only Lowell’s eighth win ever at Boston University dating back to 1983.
The loss for BU is its fourth straight at home, the first time the club has ever dropped four straight at Agganis Arena since the building opened in 2005. It is also just the second time since 1971 that BU has lost four straight home games in a season, the other time coming in the 1979-80 campaign.
Each club will continue its battle for the Hockey East regular-season title next weekend as Lowell hosts a home-and-home with Merrimack beginning Friday in Lowell and BU travels to Vermont for two.