Sometimes teams catch lightning in a bottle.
On Saturday against No. 11 Dartmouth, top-ranked Boston College received a prolific contribution from its top line of senior center Pat Mullane, senior right wing Steven Whitney, and sophomore left wing Johnny Gaudreau on the way to a 6-3 victory in front of 7,583 at Conte Forum.
Gaudreau (two goals) had a career-high five points, giving him a team-high 19. Mullane had two goals and two assists, and Whitney had one goal and two assists as the line combined for 12 points.
BC (10-1-0) has won 10 in a row and is off to its best 11-game start since 1977-78. Jerry York is just one victory away from tying Ron Mason (924) for the most by a Division 1 hockey coach.
Dartmouth coach Bob Gaudet, whose team battled back from a 3-1 deficit to tie the game late in the second period, said the line is a lot of fun to watch — except when you’re the opposing coach.
“Obviously Gaudreau is just a phenomenal player,’’ said Gaudet. “He reminds you of Paul Kariya a little bit when he was in college. Obviously, there are other guys but he’s a difference-maker.
“I don’t think we had the answers honestly to match up [against the line]. They’re so creative and they feed off of transition. When you lose the puck in the middle of the ice, it’s back at you in a hurry and those guys are a dominant line.’’
The Eagles took the lead at 3:40 of the opening period when Mullane potted his first on a redirect as senior defenseman Patch Alber put the puck on net from the right point.
Sophomore defenseman Rick Pinkston countered for Dartmouth on a rebound at 16:19 with the teams skating four a side, beating senior goalie Parker Milner (29 saves). The Big Green (5-2-2) had 17 shots in the first, the most BC has given up in a period this season.
BC scored twice in the second, on junior center Patrick Brown’s tally at 4:22 and on Gaudreau’s first at 13:10, when the deft forward found a tiny opening over the right shoulder of freshman goaltender Charles Grant (25 saves).
“I drove wide and in practice we emulate that, going hard to the net from the side,’’ said Gaudreau. “My last breakaway [on Grant] went down pretty low and I was thinking, just get a shot on net and hopefully get it right on top of his shoulder. Luckily it went off his head and went in.’’
But the Big Green pulled even with a pair of goals in the final two minutes of the period.
At 18:32, sophomore left wing Brandon McNally made it 3-2 with a redirect on the power play.
With 41.3 seconds left, sophomore center Tyler Sikura banged in a one-timer from just outside the right post, and it was all square heading into the third.
Even though Dartmouth had some chances in the final period, BC basically took over right from the first minute, with Mullane scoring 18 seconds in to put the Eagles ahead for good.
Whitney made it a 5-3 game at 3:41 and Gaudreau closed it out with an empty-net tally with 6.6 seconds remaining.
Mullane said Gaudreau was on top of his game.
“Obviously, it was a pretty impressive night,’’ Mullane said. “He had that first pass to me in the beginning of the third [that led to a goal] and that pass to Stevie. I nudged him after the game and said, ‘Was that a five-point game out of you?’ And he looked at me and said, ‘I don’t know.’ I don’t think that was the thing on his mind. I think he obviously was happy about the win. It’s nice to see that comes first but still an extremely impressive performance out of him. It’s nice when you’re on a line with him.’’Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.