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Russo assists Notre Dame to victory at BU

Freshman Cal Petersen's 44-save effort and three assists from senior Robbie Russo led Notre Dame to a 3-2 win over No. 2 Boston University on Saturday night at Agganis Arena.

Robbie Russo
Robbie Russo
Matt Dewkett

BOSTON -- Coming into the weekend, Boston University had clinching the Hockey East regular-season title clear in its sights.

Saturday night was a tough one for the second-ranked Terriers as Notre Dame finished off a three-point weekend at Agganis Arena with a 3-2 win, halting BU's celebration.

Defenseman Robbie Russo continued his stellar senior season by assisting on each of the three Irish goals as they improved to 3-1-2 in February entering the final weekend of the regular season against Boston College.

Notre Dame played very well at the end of last season as well, beating out the Eagles in the quarterfinal playoff round en route to TD Garden, but Russo says this year's uptick is simply about improving for the finish.

"We're just trying to pick up our play right now and head into the postseason on a high note," Russo, a New York Islanders prospect, said. "I think this weekend we accomplished some of the things we wanted to do."

Freshman Cal Petersen was a thorn in BU's side all weekend and he had a stellar night between the Irish pipes to close the series, making 18 of his 44 saves in the third period for his ninth win of the season.

"I'm not going to complain," Notre Dame head coach Jeff Jackson said. "He's had great moments for us this year and I'm just trying to keep him going right now. We need him this time of the year; he's got to be our best player. When you play one of the best offensive teams in the country, you're going to have to have great goaltending."

The Terriers held a 17-6 shots on goal advantage in the first period, but the visitors used just about every possible tick of time to take a 1-0 lead into the dressing room.

Irish junior Mario Lucia scored the game's first goal, and his team-leading 19th of the season, with a tenth of a second remaining in the stanza. The Minnesota Wild prospect took a feed from Russo on the crease to BU freshman Connor LaCouvee's right side.

"We felt so good about the way we played and to give up a goal there and come out of that period down 1-0 was tough to overcome mentally," BU head coach David Quinn said. "When you're playing playoff-type hockey games, all those things matter and hopefully we learned a lesson tonight."

Russo stepped up again at the 7:26 mark of the second, feeding junior assistant captain Sam Herr for a power-play goal. LaCouvee left a juicy rebound right out front of his crease and Herr came through the slot to bang in the loose rebound past the left post.

BU answered to slice its deficit in half at 15:39 as Marshfield, Mass. native junior Mike Moran took a feed from freshman Nikolas Olsson and Cal Petersen on a quick shot from the low slot.

Each of Moran's three points this year are goals, but he had not scored since posting a pair in back-to-back games Nov. 7-8.

The Irish regained a two-goal lead 1:45 into the third as sophomore Vince Hinostroza scored the team's second man-up goal of the night, taking a quick drop feed from junior Thomas DiPauli in the left circle.

"We were shooting the puck, so I think that's the key for us," Russo said of the team's 2-for-4 finish on the power play. "Last night, we really didn't shoot. We were just standing around. We moved a little bit and got some pucks to the net."

Quinn said the Terriers' recent decline, allowing at least a power-play goal in four of the last five games and nine of the last 11, has doomed the team of late.

"Our penalty kill has just not been what it needs to be over the last month," Quinn said. "We almost do a great job and then boom, people take advantage of their opportunity. ... We've got a way we prefer to kill penalties and the two goals they score, we don't kill them they way we should."

Junior captain Matt Grzelcyk brought the Terriers back within a goal at 7:50 thanks to a beautiful passing sequence. Danny O'Regan's initial shot from the left side went wide and onto the stick of freshman Jack Eichel who surveyed his options from behind the net and found Grzelcyk for his fifth goal of the season.

Petersen held the fort in the later stages of play as BU had a 19-5 shots advantage in the final frame, but the Irish held on to ride their unbeaten streak against the Terriers to seven games.

BU will have to shake off the loss quick as it finally gets a chance to capture its first Beanpot title since 2009 against Northeastern on Monday night. The game begins a stretch of three straight games between the Terriers and Huskies to conclude the regular season.