CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. -- Tuesday night at Conte Forum, Boston College was better than Northeastern. No question about it.
The visitors hung tough in the third period, but the fourth-ranked Eagles responded rather promptly to any sort of counter and completed a two-week, home-and-home sweep of the Huskies with a 5-3 win.
“Winning is just hard,” BC head coach Jerry York said. “Tonight, again, was a difficult game for us. I thought Joe Woll made some incredible saves, we blocked some shots. The early start (getting a couple goals), but they’re a hard team to play against and it went right to the wire.”
Sophomore JD Dudek scored two goals ― his fourth and fifth in a four-game span since scoring his first hat trick as an Eagle two weeks ago at UConn ― to pace BC’s attack, while his senior linemate Matthew Gaudreau added three assists to extend an eight-game point streak.
The Eagles are now 13-5-1 on the season, but an 8-0-1 record through nine Hockey East games is their best in program history. BC sits six points ahead of second-place New Hampshire in the league standings.
Despite the game’s tight finish with Northeastern holding a 16-11 shot advantage in the third period, the Eagles scored the game’s first two goals, drawing first blood at just the 1:17 marker as senior Matthew Gaudreau sent a perfect pass out of the corner to Dudek for a shot that hit crossbar and bounced past Ryan Ruck.
Beating Ruck upstairs would become a trend for the Eagles, especially after defenseman Michael Kim’s deciding goal in last Tuesday’s 2-1 win at Matthews Arena.
Dudek took what he could get.
“It’s just what he gave us. We saw that he was off his angle a lot,” Dudek said. “It wasn’t a game plan, but we’ve got a lot of good players here who can find spots he gives us.”
At 7:30, Zach Walker’s third goal of the season doubled BC’s lead. The freshman picked off a puck in neutral territory and beat the Huskies’ second-year goaltender high to his blocker side.
The connection of junior Dylan Sikura and senior Zach Aston-Reese got Northeastern on the board just under three minutes later at the 10:29 mark. Aston-Reese’s first of two assists on the night was a perfect pass through the middle of the ice, setting up Sikura for an easy tap-in finish.
BC’s lead remained just 2-1 after the first period, but Dudek and freshman David Cotton scored two goals in a 50-second span midway through the second to create some separation.
Dudek’s second goal of the night and eighth this season 9:01 into the second period started with another strong feed from Gaudreau, but this time the Devils prospect from Auburn, N.H., let one fly from the center of the offensive zone and beat Ruck upstairs after stepping into the play from transition.
“Joe’s play was very, very good,” York said of Dudek, New Jersey’s sixth-round draft pick from 2014. “He’s been on a hot streak lately, playing exceptionally well and getting a lot of minutes.”
Cotton tallied at 9:56, sticking to the play after Ruck caught defenseman Jesper Mattila’s point shot. Patiently waiting at the top of the crease, Cotton corralled the loose puck and Ruck stopped him with the pad, but he remained in the play and slid home a goal for the fifth time this year.
The Huskies brought the score back within a goal with two straight goals, one each in the second and third frames. Freshman Jeremy Davies scored the lone power-play goal of the game at 12:49 of the second, beating a frozen Woll who had already committed in Sikura’s direction before firing a pass to the left side.
“I didn’t think we very good for the first two periods, but we battled. I thought in the third period we competed much harder,” said NU head coach Jim Madigan, whose team finishes the first semester with just one win in nine Hockey East games. “We got pucks to the net and a little more offense.”
Nearly a period of game time spanned before the Huskies got on the scoreboard again as it took until 10:31 into the third for senior John Stevens to bring the score to 4-3. After receiving a pass from sophomore defenseman Eric Williams, Aston-Reese fed Stevens with a pass from behind the goal line into the low slot for a one-time shot.
The Eagles delivered once again, scoring less than five minutes later at 15:26. Gaudreau and defenseman Scott Savage broke ahead for an odd-man rush, and the latter finished the play with a snapper from the left side for his third goal of the year.
“We need more guys going, and we’ve got to defend better in our own zone,” Madigan said.