Boston College had 12 days to come up with a scheme to beat Notre Dame.
After losing to the Fighting Irish, 2-1, March 1, ending a 19-game unbeaten streak, the Eagles had a long break to figure out how to counter the defensive job Notre Dame did against them.
Guess they’re going to need a new strategy. And quickly. BC (25-6-4) gave up a one-goal lead and surrendered seven straight on the way to a 7-2 loss at Conte Forum Friday in the best-of-three Hockey East quarterfinals. Saturday’s game is at 4 p.m., giving the hosts fewer than 24 hours to solve the puzzle.
Notre Dame (22-12-2), which beat Boston University last Saturday in a one-game elimination, needs one win in the next two days to punch its ticket to TD Garden and the semifinals in its first season in Hockey East.
It’s just the second time this season BC has lost back-to-back games and the first since Nov. 23 and 29.
Notre Dame defenseman Stephen Johns, who had a pair of goals and an assist, said his team came into the series feeling very optimistic.
“To be able score two huge goals in a huge game like this, it’s huge for my confidence and I feel like it’s huge for the team’s confidence to see that everyone is chipping in,’’ said Johns. “I think we match up really well against them. We’re a tough team to play against.’’
One of the only positives for the Eagles was that junior left wing Johnny Gaudreau extended his nation-best point streak to 30 games, one shy of Paul Kariya’s league record.
The Eagles took the lead during a power play when freshman left wing Ryan Fitzgerald scored during a scramble in front at 17:37 of the opening period.
The Fighting Irish pulled even with just 9.4 seconds remaining with each team skating four a side.
Johns potted his first when he beat freshman netminder Thatcher Demko (27 saves) during a three-on-two.
Johns struck again, this time on the man advantage at 2:50 of the second, giving his team its first lead.
Freshman center Vince Hinostroza dished a pass from the right circle to Johns, charging into the top of the slot.
BC had a chance to pull even at 3:47 when senior center Patrick Brown put a shot on net that looked as if it would beat senior goalie Steven Summerhays (22 saves) but the puck ricocheted off the crossbar.
Sophomore left wing Mario Lucia gave the Fighting Irish a two-goal lead at 12:49. Hinostroza set up this one as well, dishing a pass to Lucia, who one-timed it past Demko to make it 3-1.
Notre Dame caught the Eagles napping at 1:08 of the third when the visitors scored their fourth goal.
Johns fired the puck up the ice to Steven Fogarty. The sophomore pivot stayed patient with the puck and found junior right wing Peter Schneider for the one-timer.
The fifth goal came at 5:35 when senior right wing Bryan Rust backhanded in a rebound, prompting more than a few fans to head for the exits.
Thomas DiPauli made it a five-goal deficit at 12:44 and Schneider closed it out for the Irish with his second of the night at 14:59, prompting a goalie change to Brian Billett.
Brown scored BC’s second goal with 2:18 remaining during a power play.
“We just got beat soundly by a better hockey team tonight than we were,’’ said BC coach Jerry York. “They broke it open in the second and the third. We have our work cut out for us and we understand that. Our only objective now is to get the series to Sunday.’’Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @Elle1027.