CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- If Thursday night's Harvard-Boston University game was any indication, next month's Beanpot will certainly provide some excitement in Boston.
Harvard looked like it had things well in control in the latter half of the third period, but visiting Boston University struck for three goals in a late span of 2:09 to steal a 6-5 win at Bright-Landry Hockey Center.
The Terriers jumped to 10-6-3 on the season with the victory, which came in their first game since Dec. 12 at Quinnipiac.
With several players returning from injury and the World Junior Championship in the last week following the extended layoff, it was quite difficult for BU head coach David Quinn to figure out what to expect.
"It was a crazy game in a lot of ways," Quinn said. "When the game started, we weren't sure what to expect. It's just been so long since we played. (Nikolas) Olsson and (Matt) Grzelcyk hadn't played in months and we had four guys coming off planes (from World Juniors) in the last 24 hours."
Senior Danny O'Regan scored twice in the final period, while classmates Grzelcyk and Ahti Oksanen each added one in their first games back from injuries suffered before the holiday break.
The Crimson dominated play in the first period, taking a 1-0 lead and holding BU without a shot on goal for more than 14 minutes.
Senior Jimmy Vesey got the scoring going with his tenth goal of the season at 8:23. The power play strike came on a rebound as he followed up defenseman Clay Anderson's shot at the left post, scoring for the sixth time in the last eight games.
After being vastly outplayed in the opening period, the Terriers knotted the score just 1:48 into the second. Senior Matt Lane did the honors, taking a give-and-go feed from Robbie Baillargeon for a redirection between Harvard sophomore Merrick Madsen's legs.
"We didn't give them a ton of chances in the first 40 minutes, but the ones they did get were pretty dangerous," Harvard head coach Ted Donato said after his team's second loss this season. "They got some out-numbered rushes. They have some defensemen that do a good job getting up in the rush and we weren't dilligent enough."
Crimson junior Sean Malone tipped the scales a short time later, taking advantage of another rebound at Sean Maguire's net at the 2:12 marker. Sophomore Seb Lloyd had the primary assist, setting up Malone for his second goal of the night and the start of a productive night for the Crimson's third line.
Lane buried his second of the night, continuing BU's persistent play despite eventually being outshot 11-8 for the period, at 12:33. Senior Mike Moran picked off an intended pass coming out of the penalty box and fed Lane bursting into the offensive zone for his tenth goal this season.
However, Malone would not be outdone as he clicked for his second goal of the game just 22 seconds after the Terriers' Lane tied the game at 2-2.
The Crimson finally gained a more comfortable cushion in the third period, or so they thought, at the 3:33 mark. Jake Horton scored the second goal of his sophomore season, taking a feed from junior Devin Tringale and beating Maguire from an off angle.
"I think (BU) hung in there and did a lot of good things as the game went on," Donato said. "We have to stick with what we're doing and really persevere. ... Early on, we had a lot of chances, but then we started thinking about all the chances we had instead of playing both sides of the puck."
O'Regan answered for the Terriers at 6:51, slamming one a one-time feed from Oksanen just outside the crease just after the expiration of a two-man advantage.
"We really came together, especially in the third period there," O'Regan said. "Everyone was clicking, great chemistry throughout the whole team. We just found our legs and started playing the game we wanted to play all game."
Vesey connected with fellow co-captain Kyle Criscuolo exactly halfway through the final period. Vesey slid the puck to Criscuolo across the crease, where he scored for the 11th time this season on a nifty backhand.
BU's first of three rapid fire goals in the frame came at 16:02 as Grzelcyk fired a shot from the high slot that snuck by Madsen on the power play. After setting up the captain, O'Regan tied the score after redirecting Oksanen's shot-pass into an open side of Madsen's goal at 17:06.
"You need seniors to have success," Quinn said. "Not only are they great players, but they're great leaders and great people. Danny had a heck of a game and he just wouldn't let this happen tonight, that's for sure."
Oksanen gave the Terriers a lead they would never relinquish at 18:11, taking a feed from Lane for a shot that beat Madsen high to his blocker side for his tenth goal this year.
BU continued to find its legs over the course of time and ultimately played its best hockey of the night, in the third period, when it mattered most. The win was the Terriers' third this year and ninth in the last two seasons when trailing after two periods.
"As the (first) period went on, we went from terrible to awful," Quinn said. "Then we closed the first period out being less awful. When the second period started, we were bad, then we were not so bad, then it got to OK and pretty good. In the third period, I just thought we played a lot better hockey and guys started looking more comfortable."