BOSTON -- With the Beanpot Tournament looming on Monday night, some might have considered Friday's bout with Merrimack the ultimate trap game for Boston University.
BU scored goals in each period while senior Sean Maguire and sophomore Connor LaCouvee combined to make 28 saves in a 4-0 shutout of Merrimack at Agganis Arena.
The victory lifted BU to its first five-win month since last March and upped its record to 14-7-4 on the season (8-4-3 in Hockey East play) entering Monday's Beanpot semifinal with Northeastern at TD Garden.
"It was a good win by our guys. I thought we played hard against a really tough team to play against," BU head coach David Quinn said. "It's a tough game to play. They test your physical and mental abilities, and I thought we passed them both tonight."
The Terriers jumped out to a 1-0 lead 7:06 into the first period as junior Robbie Baillargeon received the final pass in a great sequence with senior Matt Lane.
Sophomore defenseman Brien Diffley fed Lane to start the play, but Baillargeon ultimately picked up the puck and shot home his fifth goal of the season from the center of the left wing circle.
Maguire and LaCouvee combined for the shutout as Maguire left the net for roughly six minutes to have a skate malfunction fixed. Baillargeon's goal came during LaCouvee's brief stay in the net, during which he recorded just one save.
"I realized that after I was going around shaking everybody's hand. Connor got dealt a bad hand a couple times last year when we put him in," Quinn said. "Those things have a way of working themselves out."
Baillargeon's first goal in four games proved to be all the offense BU would need, but the Terriers doubled their lead at the 15:52 mark of the second after Merrimack picked up the pace and took territorial control.
The Warriors did not take advantage of any of their six power-play chances, but BU senior Danny O'Regan took over shorthanded and scored BU's second goal.
O'Regan picked off an errant puck in the neutral zone, skated through the Merrimack defense and lifted a wrist shot high on Merrimack sophomore Collin Delia for his ninth goal of the season and second in as many games.
"It was 1-0 and we had some chances, so I could sense our guys getting frustrated," Quinn said. "The penalties were really taking us out of our rhythm. To get a shorthanded goal there gave us a little bit of breathing room and maybe we stopped gripping the sticks a little too tight."
BU's third and fourth goals came in the latter half of the third period in which it took command again and ultimately held a 12-10 shots on goal advantage.
Lane took a brief hold of the team scoring lead with his 14th goal of the season at 11:57, punching home his own rebound on a puck that Delia could not control in his crease.
Diffley had the primary assist on Lane's goal, setting him up for the initial try on Delia. His two assists were his first points of the calendar year and
"It was good," Diffley said. "No matter where I'm playing, I just try to play the same game. The position doesn't really matter to me. I just do whatever I can to stay in the lineup. It definitely felt good tonight."
The goal came just a couple minutes after Merrimack had a big chance to cut into its deficit, but Maguire made a key save on Mathieu Tibbet breaking through the middle of the offensive zone on a 2-on-1 rush.
"I thought we played well for decent stretches of the game," Merrimack head coach Mark Dennehy said after his team's tenth straight loss. "When you come and play a good team like Boston University in their rink, you need a bounce or two. I thought we had some opportunities and didn't get those bounces. I thought we continued to play hard. They capitalized on their chances and that was the difference in the game."
Delia left the net in the final two minutes in favor of an extra skater, but senior Ahti Oksanen found his way onto the scoresheet and hit the empty net with 1:18 left in regulation.
Senior captain Matt Grzelcyk found Oksanen for the 50th goal of his collegiate career, picking the puck up off a couple blocked shots.
BU's finish to the game is one Quinn said his team can be proud of heading into Monday. The Terriers will be in search of their second straight Beanpot title after beating Northeastern last season.
"I really liked the way we played the last ten minutes," Quinn said. "I thought we played smart hockey, we possessed it, we didn't turn the puck over. A lot of good things."