Hockey: BU smokes Providence 6-1

BOSTON -- Sometimes, less is more. In October, the last time the BU Terriers squared off against Providence, the Friars thwarted Jack Parker's squad, racing out to a 3-0 lead before holding on for a 5-3 victory.

On Friday, the Terriers team that hosted Providence didn't have the same firepower, on paper anyway. In December, senior sniper Corey Trivino (who scored against the Friars on Oct. 14) was dismissed from the squad after an alleged assault, and NHL draft pick Charlie Coyle left to start his professional career.

But the No. 2 Terriers (14-6-1; 11-4-1 Hockey East) have found a new chemistry, and that potent mix was on full display Friday as they pinned a 6-1 loss on Providence before 5,171 at Agganis Arena. The new-look Terriers rode a dominating 4-0 first-period lead -- scoring four times on their first seven shots -- to avenge their early-season loss to the Friars.

The win, coupled with Boston College's overtime loss to Maine, gave the Terriers sole possession of first place in Hockey East. It was also Parker's 400th win in Hockey East since the league formed in 1985.

"We've come together as a team pretty nicely," said Parker. "The offense is spread around pretty good, especially on the top two lines. But even guys on the third and fourth lines are chipping in."

Providence (9-10-2; 7-6-1 HE), which has made huge strides this season under first-year coach Nate Leaman, had no answer for the Terriers' opening blitzkrieg.

"Tonight, they made us play from behind," said Leaman. "When they score four goals on the first seven shots, it's an uphill battle."

BU struck early with an opportunistic tally. Winger Evan Rodrigues' attempted pass from behind the goal knuckleballed over the net, and fell right to center Sahir Gill. The sophomore wasted no time, driving the puck past PC netminder Alex Beaudry at the 1:31 mark.

Providence had a chance to even things up during a a subsequent power play, but BU's veteran goaltender Kieran Millan (36 saves) made three successive saves on Damian Cross, Derek Army and Andy Balysky.

"I thought Providence's power play was unbelievable," said Parker. "They had all kinds of great opportunities, and Kieran made a couple of unbelievable saves.

"Kieran Millan makes 36 saves out of 37 opportunities, that's a pretty good night for our goaltender," said the BU coach. "It's just not the quantity of saves he was making, it's the quality. He was certainly on top of his game tonight."

At 10:40, BU's Alex Chiasson, who had missed two quality bids earlier in the period, made sure the third time was the charm. Chugging down the right wing, Chiasson unleashed a bomb that beat Beaudry cleanly underneath his blocker.

Beaudry's night came to a premature end at 13:23, when he misjudged a loose puck that rolled into his zone. BU's Ryan Santana, racing after the puck, beat Beaudry to the biscuit and neatly chipped it over the sliding goaltender. The moment the puck skittered into the Friar net, BU had a 3-0 lead and PC's back-up netminder Justin Gates was jumping over the boards.

"Beaudry's been great for us all year," sais Leaman. "When I saw that, I knew it was uncharacteristic of him, and I knew it wasn't just his night."

Gates, though, didn't fair any better under BU's unrelenting attack. At 14:43, Terriers defender Adam Clendening floated a shot from the right point that Matt Nieto tipped through a maze of bodies and past Gates for a 4-0 BU lead.

"I liked the way everybody on my club played tonight," said Parker. "Getting Gill and Chiasson and Nieto back on the score sheet was great for us."

In the middle stanza, Gates (27 saves) and the Friars stemmed the tide, but the damage had been done. Providence finally broke through at 8:59 of the second period. Just as a penalty to Alexx Privitera was expiring, the puck got lost in a scrum directly in front of Millan. Players from both teams got a whack at it, but PC's Shane Luke connected, sending it past Millan and cutting the BU lead to 4-1.

At 4:14 of the third, PC's Daniel New got booted for a hit from behind on Chiasson, giving the Terriers a 5-minute power play. BU cashed in almost immediately, when Privitera's seeing-eye shot from the point broke through Gates at 4:56 for a 5-1 Terriers lead. Garrett Noonan stretched the margin to 6-1 at 7:02, when he took a slick feed from Chris Connolly at the left post and jammed it between Gates' legs.

The two squads line up again Saturday, this time at Providence's Schneider Arena, with the season series on the line.

"I thought the pace of the game was pretty good," said Parker. "It should be quite a game down in Providence tomorrow."