Chesnut Hill, Mass. -- It may be the same script, but Boston College is finding new wrinkles even as the story remains similar.
Johnny Gaudreau, Kevin Hayes, and Bill Arnold, the Eagles' and probably the nation's top line, are going to make it a nightmare for opposing defenses. The victim on Saturday was Maine.
The line combined for five goals and seven assists against the Black Bears at Conte Forum, and downed Maine 7-2 in a Hockey East tilt.
"It's a matchup problem for just about everybody in the country, not just Maine," said Black Bears' head coach Red Gendron. "They're a great line. Coming into the game, what did they have, 109 points collectively on the line?"
The success of the trio is nothing new: Since head coach Jerry York grouped the trio together to provide a spark for his team, it's done just that, to the tune of an 8-0-1 record, and a combined 58 points from the new top line in those 9 games played.
Boston College wouldn't wait long to jump on the visiting Black Bears Saturday, scoring just 1:10 into the game. With Maine still finding its legs, Hayes got off a shot, and then banged in his own rebound to put the Eagles ahead.
"Obviously, early in the game, Hayes gets the puck, and we're supposed to be covering one of the wingers, but then it ends up 3-on-2," said Gendron. "That's not a matchup problem; that's a mistake at the other end of the rink."
Maine would respond though, and get good zone time in BC's end the rest of the period. While it looked like the Black Bears wouldn't find an equalizer, Maine managed to eek one out in the waning moments. A scramble in front as time expired looked like it resulted in nothing, but after a review, Maine's Jon Swavely was awarded a goal with just 0.9 seconds remaining.
The second period was where BC would do its damage. It started when Hayes was able to hold up the puck at the blue line before putting a saucer pass on the tape of a cutting Scott Savage. From there, the defenseman fired a centering feed to Arnold, who was able to redirect it through Martin Ouellette's legs.
"I'm playing more of a power forward type of game, and I'm also playing with probably two of the best guys in the country," Hayes said of his increased production. "Like I always say, [Gaudreau] is the best offensive guy, and Bill Arnold is the best two-way guy in the country, easily.
"Pretty much anybody could play with those two guys."
The Eagles didn't waste much time lighting the lamp again. Just 46 seconds later, Arnold would tally his second from in front of the net, this time off a feed from Gaudreau.
"We've got some really good offensive players that can make things happen from almost no chance to a pretty good scoring chance by moving pucks well," York said. "They like to score goals."
BC would end its scoring spree 52 seconds later, when Ian McCoshen walked down from the point and one-timed home a pass from Patrick Brown to push BC's lead to 4-1. Maine would pull Ouellette in favor of senior Dan Sullivan following the goal.
"He's played every game that counts except one," Gendron said. "Boston College hit us for three in a row 4:18 to 5:04, and 5:56, so rather than take a timeout, I thought we'd endeavor to change the momentum, and that's why I put [Sullivan] in."
Maine would get one back late in the second when Stu Higgins slipped a rebound past Thatcher Demko on the power play, but the Black Bears wouldn't get any closer.
In the end, Gaudreau would set a new career high with 5 assists (and also extend a career-high 18-game point streak), Hayes would net his first hat trick, and Arnold tallied two goals and an assist.
"Playing with Kevin has been extremely fun," Gaudreau said after watching his linemate net the milestone. "I always wanted to play with him my first two years, but I never got a chance to.
"He's extremely skilled, and puts the puck right on your tape when you're not expecting it. He's a huge power forward, and he's just having a breakout season this year."
Again, it was a case of BC's top line making yet another statement, only this time, they found a different way to say it.