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Friday thoughts: We needed those points, Kieran!

February 7, 2009

As we said yesterday, this game would probably come down to special teams play, and for the second straight game at Agganis Arena, Lowell went 0-fer on the power play while BU scored a pair of late goals when the ‘Hawks were down a man.

Par for the course.

Yeah, Lowell trailed BU 3-0 just 9:25 into the game (and we’ll go to our graves swearing that second goal was offsides, which it very obviously was) but the resilience shown by the ‘Hawks before the inevitable breakdown was encouraging. Surely, everyone in the rink figured, this one’s gonna end about 7-1 and Carter Hutton‘s going to get the hook no matter how well he played while BU poured on the pressure prior to its first goal.

And oh was there pressure. The CPR line had a phenomenal first shift, but everything after that and including BU’s three goals in 1:51 was more than a little troubling. But those troubles were assuaged a bit by Nick Monroe‘s wild backhanded swing at a loose puck that beat Kieran Millan (who once again looked rather unlike a goalie with a 1.55 GAA and .933 save percentage) high to his right. We doubt he even saw it.

Those same troubles were erased completely by odd little plays from Mike Potacco and Monroe’s linemate, David Vallorani, both of whom took advantage of BU miscues and deposited the puck in the net in the second period on goals Millan would probably like back. First was Potacco’s at 10:08. On a BU breakout, Barry Goers stuck a stick into two Terriers’ general area and the puck hopped almost magically onto Potacco’s stick, who broke into the zone and fired a half-hearted wrister toward Millan. Millan almost seemed surprised that Potacco attempted the shot, and he must have sure been surprised when it bounced off his arm, over his shoulder, and into the net to cut BU’s once-comfortable lead to one.

Vallorani leveled the game exactly eight minutes later, collecting a Ryan Blair dump-in that took a crazy hop off the corner boards and shooting from behind the goal line, off Millan and in. It was wacky as all hell, but it was also the result of about five or six shifts’ worth of hard work and strong cycling from a number of River Hawks. It was very encouraging to see them not pack it in after going down 3-0 so early.

But just as encouraging as that was, the final 10 minutes were just as deflating. Lowell began to look tired, BU started drawing penalties, and well, if you give a power play that’s running at 24ish percent enough chances, it will score.

Of course, the first power play goal — the one that stood up as the game-winner — was entirely Hutton’s fault. From our vantage point, we saw the entire play unfold perfectly. There was a scrum in front of the net in which Hutton was knocked down while several BU players took whacks at the puck. It came to rest just outside the crease to Hutton’s right. And Hutton, lying prone on his stomach, should probably have dropped his stick and at least tried to cover the puck with his blocker hand. But instead, he attempted to push it away from what he considered the danger area and probably got about 10 percent of the push he wanted onto it. He cannot have seen Vinny Saporani lurking in the faceoff circle, poised to pounce as the puck squirted two feet out from the crease. Saporani roofed the hell out of it and gave BU the lead it, of course, would never surrender. Jason Lawrence added a late insurance marker, also on the power play.

This is now the third time in as many games this season that Lowell has entered the third period against BU either tied or leading and ultimately lost, which is frustrating considering how closely the ‘Hawks played BU in five of the six other periods (the exception, obviously, being the first tonight).

But again, those special teams. Lowell 0 for 4, BU 2 for 4. Two goals ended up being the difference. Go figure.

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