BU, NU can't settle differences
Terriers hold off Huskies for point
It was billed as the battle for first place in Hockey East and a matchup between two of the top four teams in the nation. Fourth-ranked Northeastern had been atop the conference since October. A victory by No. 1 Boston University would have leapfrogged the Terriers over the Huskies by a point.
But by virtue of the 2-2 tie at Agganis Arena last night in front of a sellout crowd of 6,221, the positions remained the same. NU (20-8-3, 15-5-2) is the only team in the nation to not suffer consecutive losses this season. Although his team extended its unbeaten streak to 11 games (9-0-2), BU coach Jack Parker tipped his cap to the Huskies, saying the Terriers (23-5-3, 14-5-3) were lucky to get a point.
"We played a pretty good first period and then we acted like the game was over," he said. "The difference between Northeastern's effort and determination and our effort and determination, [their] awareness and positional play compared to ours from the second period on, was like night and day. We were unbelievably fortunate to get a point out of that game. We really dodged a bullet.
"That team outplayed us for the last 40 minutes. I thought it was a great show by them and a sad show by us. We had maybe five or six guys play real well and the rest of them disappeared. You can easily see why [the Huskies are] in first place. They're talented and they're determined.
"I noticed their guys much more than I noticed our guys. We think we have a good hockey team, but that team didn't show up tonight."
The Terriers got off to a fast start, earning a 2-0 lead heading into the first intermission.
They got on the board at 7:23. Senior defenseman Matt Gilroy raced the puck up the left side and dished a backhanded pass from deep in the circle to Brandon Yip, who was charging down the slot.
Yip lifted a shot past Brad Thiessen (22 saves) for his 12th goal of the season.
The Terriers added their second tally on a power play late in the period.
Five seconds after NU killed off a brief five-on-three advantage, the Terriers scored five-on-four.
With defenseman Louis Liotti off for interference, the Huskies' fourth minor penalty of the period, BU defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk fired a slap shot from the right point. The puck deflected off a defender in front and bounced off the back boards.
It squirted out to Colin Wilson, who popped it in from just outside the right post with 38.3 seconds remaining. (Wilson's line was benched for the second half of the second period because of ineffective play.)
The Huskies closed to within a goal at 10:38 of the middle period.
Liotti sent the puck down to Greg Costa in the right corner. Costa relayed it to Steve Silva in the circle, and Silva's quick shot eluded Kieran Millan (20 saves) for his second strike of the season.
The Huskies pulled even during a power play at 13:11.
Sophomore right wing Wade MacLeod was positioned behind the cage. He skated out a stride and fired on net. The puck ricocheted off Millan's pad and into the net for MacLeod's 13th goal of the season.
Despite chances in the third period and overtime, most notably bids by NU's Joe Vitale and Tyler McNeely in the extra session, neither squad could prevail.
The rematch is tonight at Matthews Arena.
"BU's got incredible talent," said NU coach Greg Cronin. "Obviously, their power play can be frightening.
"If you chop the game up, I wasn't happy with the first period. You can't give BU four power plays. We're going to have to clean that up [tonight]. Ties are tough.
"You reflect back on woulda, coulda, shoulda. But we come to play and win every game and that's our goal."
Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at email@example.com.