PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Boston University overcame an early 2-0 deficit, scoring the game’s final three goals, to edge Providence 3-2 on Friday at Schneider Arena to take the front half of a home-and-home series.
The game’s offensive hero, unfortunately for BU, also turned out to be its biggest casualty. Evan Rodrigues tallied twice, but then left the game with 13:18 remaining with what coach Jack Parker believes might be a broken hand.
“He arguably might be the best forward on our team right now and one of the best players in the league right now,” said Parker of Rodrigues. “That’ll hurt. It’s tough to replace him.”
The plus side for BU (13-9-0, 10-6-0 Hockey East) is that it moves two points ahead of Providence (10-10-3, 8-6-2 Hockey East) for third place in the Hockey East standings.
Providence came out flying early in the first, taking every opportunity to throw the body around and as a result, controlled the early play.
The Friars jumped out to a 2-0 lead on goals by Ross Mauermann at 7:52 and Brandon Tanev at 16:48.
But the Terriers turned on the heat in the closing minutes and got back into the game.
Rodrigues scored his first of the night on a hard wrist shot from the slot at 19:17 to make it 2-1. Seconds later, Danny O’Regan nearly tied it, barely missing the net on a tight angle shot.
“Providence came out pretty hard right off the bat,” said Parker. “What changed is we got the goal late in the first. It’s a great uplift to get one when you’re down 2-0.”
While Providence had another solid start to the second, it was the Terriers who struck with the period’s only goal to draw even. Rodrigues notched his second of the night when he fired the rebound of his own shot under the left armpit of Providence netminder Jon Gillies (22 saves) at 5:52.
The teams then traded quality bids for the go-ahead tally.
BU’s Matt Nieto missed an empty net on a three-on-two at 8:26. Then Providence’s Tim Schaller, picking up a home run pass out of the penalty box, was stonewalled on a breakaway by BU goaltender Sean Maguire (32 saves) with 28 seconds remaining, keeping the game deadlocked at two heading to the third.
While the Rodrigues injury early in the third could have deflated the Terriers, it instead appeared uplifting. On the ensuing faceoff, BU buzzed around the offensive zone to net what stood up as the game-winner.
Sahir Gill, stoned a number of times on the night by Gillies, took the netminder out of the equation, making a nifty move to pull him out of position then quickly wrapping the puck around the net at 7:14.
The Friars had their chances to tie the game throughout the period, most notably two power-play opportunities where the BU penalty kill, perfect on the night, came up big.
“We lose Rodrigues, who is one of our best penalty killers, so we had to work pretty hard [on the penalty kill],” said Parker. “I think the guys knew that if they’re going to get a shot, we had Maguire to make the stop.”
While the comeback victory for BU feels great heading into Saturday’s rematch at Agganis Arena, the loss is certainly a stinger for the Friars.
“I was really disappointed that when it was 2-0, we started getting cute,” said Providence coach Nate Leaman. “I thought we’re immature and we lacked that killer instinct.”