|BC’s Tommy Cross puts a backhander past BU goalie Kieran Millan early in the second period for the deciding goal. (Winslow Townson/For the Globe)|
BC returns the favor
Series finale tilts the Eagles’ way
On Friday night, 13th-ranked Boston University had more penalties (17) than shots (15) but still beat archrival Boston College, 5-3, at Conte Forum.
Last night at Agganis Arena, the third-ranked Eagles were outshot by a 41-31 margin but ran away with a 6-1 decision.
“So, we win the game [Friday] and I was very disheartened with how we played,’’ said BU coach Jack Parker. “I didn’t like how we approached the game once it went along. [Last night], for the first two periods, I really like how my team played. All in all, I thought it was a pretty good game for us.
“It was as bizarre a three games [in the season series, the other Nov. 13] as I’ve seen us play. I thought we played great and they disappeared the first night. They played great [Friday] and we got fabulous goaltending. [Last night], I thought we played extremely well for two periods.’’
BC (11-5-0, 8-3-0 Hockey East) took the lead at 5:51 of the opening period when freshman right wing Danny Linell potted his first goal. Kieran Millan, who was nothing less than sensational in Friday’s victory at BC, made the initial save on freshman left wing Quinn Smith after Smith charged in from the left circle. But Millan (17 saves) couldn’t freeze it and Linell rapped it in from outside the right post.
The assist was Smith’s first point.
BU (8-5-1, 6-4-1) tied it at 18:56 when junior defenseman Ryan Ruikka threw the puck down from the right point. The puck was deflected wide by senior left wing Chris Connolly and it caromed off the end boards and bounced to the right side of the net. Senior center Corey Trivino backhanded a shot toward the cage. The puck glanced off the left leg of BC freshman netminder Brian Billett (40 saves) and went in.
A momentum change occurred in the second period when Connolly, who was back in the BU lineup after missing Friday’s contest, raced up the right side and took a shot that rattled off the post at 1:04. Just 46 seconds later, the Eagles took the lead for good when BC captain Tommy Cross scored on a top-shelf backhander from outside the right post with the teams skating four a side.
At 13:53, BC’s leading scorer, junior right wing Chris Kreider, potted his 12th of the season when he beat Millan from the left circle. The goal came moments after BU junior right wing Alex Chiasson couldn’t convert on a pair of terrific scoring chances.
Freshman left wing Johnny Gaudreau made it a 4-1 lead when he beat Millan from the slot with the teams skating four a side. It was the seventh tally of the year for the deft Gaudreau, though just his second in eight games.
Sophomore center Bill Arnold boosted the advantage to 5-1 when he beat Millan from the right circle at 18:24.
Senior Grant Rollheiser (eight saves) took over in the BU net for the final period. He was charged with the Eagles’ sixth goal, by senior left wing Paul Carey at 3:48. After a strong start (six points in the first seven games), Carey has cooled. The goal was his second in nine games and fourth of the season.
The victory helped stem BC’s struggles. The Eagles had dropped four of their previous six games.
“I thought we were very, very solid in all three zones,’’ said BC coach Jerry York. “I thought Brian played exceptionally well in goal. I felt very good about the way we played.’’
York agreed with Parker that some aspects of the weekend series were flat-out strange.
“I thought it was an outstanding effort by our team [Friday],’’ said York. “It’s not very often you walk away with 42 saves for one goaltender and 10 for the other goaltender and you lose a game. Even though it was a tough loss for us, Millan was on the top of his game.’’
Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.