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Hockey East quarterfinal: BC staves off elimination behind Gaudreau with 4-2 win

With their backs against the wall, Boston College defeated Notre Dame 4-2 to force a decisive Game 3 in their quarterfinal series.

Matt Dewkett (mrd-photos.com)

Chesnut Hill, Mass. -- Boston College had been a bit out of sorts against Notre Dame in its past two meetings, in which the Irish had twice defeated the Eagles on their home ice at Kelley Rink.

So when facing elimination in the Hockey East quarterfinals, Boston College did what it has most of this season on Saturday: turned to Johnny Gaudreau.

The junior standout recorded two goals and two assists, and played a big hand in keeping Boston College's Hockey East tournament hopes alive with a 4-2 win.

"Whether I'm the leading scorer or not, it's a do-or-die game, and I needed to come out and show my best, and help my teammates, and try to help the team get the win," Gaudreau said.

The Eagles were brought to the brink of elimination after losing to Notre Dame in Game 1 of the series Friday night 7-2. And it looked like Notre Dame might turn in a repeat performance in Game 2, when Bryan Rust scored just 39 ticks in to give the Irish an early 1-0 lead.

"A key to the game was that we gave up an early goal, but the bench did not sag at all," said BC head coach Jerry York. "Sometimes, you lose the first night, and then all of a sudden it's 1-0... really early in the game, but we held our own their on the bench."

Boston College would settle in though, and start to generate its own offensive chances. The first period was slowed down by penalties though, with the team's taking a combined seven minors.

"The first period, there was no flow to it with all the penalties," said Notre Dame head coach Jeff Jackson. "It was really the difference in the game.

"That's where the whole tempo of the game was established."

On the tail end of one of those power plays, BC capitalized. With Patrick Brown coming out of the penalty box, Bill Arnold hit Gaudreau with a stretch pass. He was able to break into Notre Dame's zone on a 2-on-1 with Brown, and hit the Eagles' captain with a pass on the tape for a tap-in and a tie score.

"I knew Pat came out of the box, and Billy made a great outlet pass to me through the neutral zone," Gaudreau said. "I kind of waited for [the defender] to bite, and he went down, and I sent it over to Pat."

Gaudreau would give BC the lead later in the period with the Eagles two skaters up. With BC working the puck around the zone, Arnold hit Kevin Hayes, who fired a cross-ice pass to a wide open Gaudreau. With time and space, Gaudreau roofed the puck past a sprawling Steven Summerhays for a 2-1 BC edge.

Gaudreau's night was hardly done.

After a scoreless second second period, Boston College put the game out of reach in the third. Hayes scored BC's third goal of the afternoon off another crisp passing play. Gaudreau fed Scott Savage, who shot-faked and then slid the puck over to an unguarded Hayes, who easily beat Summerhays.

"We were making smarter plays throughout all three zones," said Gaudreau. "We were making smart plays in the offensive zone, which led to goals.

"We need to make sure we continue to do that."

Gaudreau added an insurance marker just 1:31 after Hayes' tally. The leading scorer in the country broke through the Notre Dame defense, and then slide the puck on the backhand through Summerhays' legs to pusha BC's advantage to 4-1.

The four-point afternoon for Gaudreau extended his point-streak to a Hockey East record-tying 31 games, matching a stretch put together by Paul Kariya in 1991-92.

"It's pretty easy to do that when you're playing with guys like [Arnold] and [Hayes], and I'm thankful coach put me with those two guys toward the middle of the season," Gaudreau said. "Getting to play with those two guys, my game just gets better and better."

The Eagles victory sets up a decisive Game 3 on Sunday, in what will be a true rubber match, as counting the regular season, BC and Notre Dame have now defeated each other both twice on the year.

"It's kind of the same approach as coming into this night," Gaudreau said. "We want to get to the Garden, and we want to make sure our senior class comes out of Conte with its last night here."