Boston College did not play anything remotely resembling a good team game last night. A few bursts of brilliant individual skill - a beautiful breakaway goal by Alex Tuch (while being hooked the entire time) to take a 2-0 lead, and Colin White's electrifying shorthanded breakaway goal in the third period to put BC up 3-2 - allowed the Eagles to skate away with a point last night, but it was far from well-deserved. After a semi decent first period and a lackluster second, it all fell apart for BC in the third period and they needed some serious heroics from Thatcher Demko to prevent egg on their face at home. Let's look at the shot charts.
Goals... BC 2, NU 1
Shot attempts... BC 17, NU 13
Shots on goal... BC 12, NU 8
The first period wasn't bad. It started off really well, with BC peppering the NU net in the early minutes of play and really giving the Huskies fits with their speed down the middle. Northeastern goalie Ryan Ruck actually made a few pretty good saves in the opening minutes before letting one squeak through his five hole shortly after the 4 minute mark, a Miles Wood attempt through traffic.
The rest of the period was pretty poor, though. That was just about it in terms of high quality chances for BC, with the exception of Tuch's breakaway goal (circled on the chart). On the other end, Northeastern had several opportunities from the slot. Even though BC out-attempted the Huskies in the first period, NU's shots were from more dangerous locations. Unfortunately, it wouldn't really get any better.
Goals... BC 0, NU 0
Shot attempts... BC 13, NU 10
Shots on goal... BC 8, NU 6
The second period was highlighted by two things: generally lackluster play from both teams at even strength, particularly from BC in terms of their breakouts out of their own end, which were pretty poor all night long except for when they connected with stretch passes, and the Eagles' need to kill off a five minute major penalty on Miles Wood.
The penalty seemed like a pretty good call from my vantage point. I was a little surprised to see 5 and a game, but he did get the guy in the head and that's pretty much automatic these days. BC responded well. NU's power play didn't generate much danger. In terms of high quality chances in the 2nd period, BC actually had the slight edge. It mostly looked like they were ready to sleepwalk their way through the rest of the game and collect the two points. That wasn't gonna happen.
Goals... NU 2, BC 1
Shot attempts... NU 32, BC 6
Shots on goal... NU 17, BC 5
First thing's first - yes, the referees were brutal in this period. The tripping call against Tuch was a good one. Savage's was iffy. The next two were utter nonsense (hence Gaudreau getting a misconduct for his protesting... of course, with BC already shorthanded due to Wood's ejection, it wasn't a good time to get yourself parked for ten minutes). The worst call of all was the tripping penalty against Ryan Fitzgerald at 9:23. Fitzgerald buzzed across the front of the net and never even remotely made contact with Ryan Ruck. Ruck, as all goalies are wont to do, reacted to there being a player in his general vicinity by going full extension with the flop. We don't have highlights yet but it looked something like this:
Millea, who was positioned right next to the play, didn't put his arm up, and I was actually yelling from my seats that they really should have called the two minute diving penalty. Baker, down the other end of the ice and at least 100 feet away from the play, raises his arm and calls Fitzgerald for the trip. It was an awful call.
What happened next was a nice bit of karmic justice. BC killed the 5-on-3 and was taking heavy pressure on the 5-on-4, but Colin White delivered a thrilling moment with a nasty breakaway goal shorthanded that got Conte incredibly loud (which takes a lot).
Unfortunately, the Eagles squandered that moment, and you can't blame it on the officiating. There were no penalties whistled in the final 9 minutes+OT after BC took the lead, and yet the Eagles didn't generate a single good scoring chance the rest of the game. Northeastern, meanwhile, was firing away from everywhere. It's been a while since we've seen such a cluttered up shot chart in BC's end. To the Huskies' credit, their defensemen were doing a great job of keeping the puck in the zone and getting the attack reset while BC kept running around in their own end. Only two things kept BC in it - Demko's goaltending, and NU's tendency to miss the net (11 shots off target for the period).
Northeastern's dominance continued in OT, and BC managed to just barely escape with a point.
Goals... NU 0, BC 0
Shot attempts... NU 6, BC 1
Shots on goal... NU 5, BC 1
The Huskies were feelin' it going in to OT, and why not? They were in complete control at this point, and once again it was only Demko keeping BC in it. BC's one shot in OT, a decent attempt by Sanford, was against the run of play after a quick breakout. Things were much busier in Demko's end. Two of his five saves in the third period were really nice, including denying Zach Aston Reese with a pad save on a point blank opportunity.
That was all she wrote. All told, it was BC's worst game of the season. The loss at RPI was unlucky and BC dominated the game. That wasn't the case last night.
With the exception of Colin White's special teams heroics, NU managed to bottle up the line that had been doing much of the damage for BC recently. White, Gaudreau and Fitzgerald combined for 4 even strength shot attempts. Tuch, Sanford and Gilmour only combined for 5. Wood's line was probably BC's most active (7 shot attempts total for the game) before Wood got tossed. Chris Calnan was slotted back on to the first line wing after Wood's ejection, but looked like he was still not quite 100%.
Northeastern pretty much always gives BC a top effort at Matthews Arena, so the Eagles are going to need to elevate their game this afternoon if they want to get anything out of this weekend. The puck drops at 4 PM.