CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — No. 4 Boston College got three third-period goals to break open a 2-2 tie en route to a 5-2 victory over Providence in from of a sold-out Kelley Rink on Friday night.
Captain Patrick Brown scored the game-winner, redirecting a Kevin Hayes shot out of midair just 37 seconds into the final frame.
Phenom Johnny Gaudreau then picked the pocket of Providence blueliner Kevin Hart and scored on a breakaway with 2:10 remaining before Hayes scored into the empty net in the final minute.
The victory extends Boston College’s winning streak to six games, while Providence (13-5-4, 6-4-1 Hockey East) is now winless (0-3-1) in its last four.
The story of the game was special teams.
Providence gave Boston College (14-4-2, 8-1-1 Hockey East) six chances with the man-advantage and the Eagles buried two power-play goals and a third that came just two seconds after the man-advantage expired.
At the same time, the Friars were unable to score in any of their four chances on the power play, mustering just a single shot on a third period man-advantage while trailing by a goal.
“[BC’s] power play was the difference tonight,” said Providence coach Nate Leaman. “If you’re going to win a road game in our league, you have to get it done on the specialty teams.”
The power-play tallies were a sight for sore eyes for BC coach Jerry York, whose team spent plenty of time this week working on the man-up unit in practice after going 0-for-9 last Saturday night against Notre Dame.
“[Associate head coach] Greg Brown is in charge of our power play,” said York, “and it’s been kind of a frustrating year for him as far as how we we’ve played on the PP, but in the last week or so [in practice], it just seems to have clicked.”
The biggest difference Friday night, said York, was not just finding time and space, but simply shooting the puck.
“[The power play] is a part of the offense we have to depend on as the year goes on,” said York. “We’re shooting pucks. Our ability to shoot pucks more instead of trying to make that pass into the net is key.”
While Boston College absolutely controlled time of possession in the opening 20, the game was tied at one thanks to the opportunistic Friars.
After Gaudreau netted his 18th goal of the season and 60th of his career at 7:29, two seconds after a BC power play ended, Providence tied things at 15:31 when Shane Luke buried a Ross Mauermann pass, one of the few quality chances the Friars had in the first.
In the second, Providence leveled the ice surface, outshooting BC 12-9 and at 13:51, took the lead.
Some tic-tac-toe passing led to Derek Army alone skating through the slot. As he got tripped, he one-timed a feed over Brian Billett’s glove then flew through the air in a move resembling Bobby Orr’s famous Stanley Cup winner from 1970.
Shortly thereafter, Providence was whistled for a penalty that led to BC’s power play connecting to even the score. Gaudreau slid a cross-crease pass that Bill Arnold redirected to knot the game at two at 16:37.
The Friars shot themselves in the foot late in the second. While on the power play, Providence was whistled for too many men. And it was that power play early in the third that resulted in Brown’s game-winner.
“[Penalties] were one of our big bullet points,” said Leaman. “Too many men on the ice, that’s a real bad one. I didn’t think we played with the composure we need to and that led to some of the penalties.”
Jon Gilies finished with 26 saves for Providence, as did Billett.