No. 3 Providence went into Friday night’s game against No. 18 Boston University as the only team in Hockey East without a loss.
It was the first time since 2002-03 that the Friars were unbeaten through the first five games of the season, and the first time they were ranked in the top five since they made it to No. 5 in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll on Oct. 1, 2001.
But the Friars didn’t come out of it that way. The Terriers fought back from a 3-0 deficit with four unanswered goals on the way to a 4-3 victory at Agganis Arena in front of 4,185.
“Obviously, a tale of two games in a lot of ways,’’ said BU coach David Quinn. “When we made it 3-1, I thought we kind of found our way about us and we became more confident and more physical. To go into the third period tied, 3-3, was a big deal for us.
“I couldn’t be prouder of them the way they played, the way they responded. It was good to see. That’s probably the best two periods of hockey we’ve played so far.’’
It was the first road game of the season for Providence (4-1-1) and its first Hockey East matchup. BU improved to 4-3-0 overall and 2-0-0 in the league.
Danny O’Regan, who tied the score at 3-3, lifted the Terriers to victory. At 5:38 of the third, O’Regan snapped a loose puck into the net off a scramble in front for his second goal of the evening.
In the first 20 minutes, it was virtually all Providence, which took advantage of myriad BU defensive mistakes.
The Friars parlayed 19 shots on goal into a 3-0 lead heading into the first intermission.
The first came shorthanded. With Shane Luke off for interference, Ross Mauermann dished a pass into the slot for defenseman Steven Shamanski. Shamanski’s shot through a screen beat goaltender Matt O’Connor (34 saves) at 9:29.
Mauermann put his team up, 2-0, at 12:43, beating O’Connor on a one-timer from the slot.
The tally was set up by Paul de Jersey, who found Mauermann with a pass from deep in the left circle.
Brandon Tanev cashed in on a turnover by Terriers defenseman Garrett Noonan at the BU blue line. Tanev charged into the zone and beat O’Connor on a backhander at 16:34.
BU outshot the Friars, 8-7, in the middle period and fought its way back to tie the score in the process.
At 6:07, the Terriers started the rally when Sam Kurker jumped on a loose puck and jammed in a shot from the edge of the crease.
The second score came during a power play.
With Kevin Hart in the box for tripping, Matt Lane roofed a shot from the right side of the cage at 8:58 to close the gap to a goal.
The Terriers’ third strike came with 1:32 remaining in the period. During a give-and-go, Robbie Baillargeon sailed a pass to O’Regan in the slot and he directed it past netminder Jon Gillies (21 saves).
BU had a chance to take its first lead of the contest at 4:47 of the third when Gillies lost sight of the puck after a shot by Noonan hit him and bounced into the air.
Brendan Collier swooped in on the loose puck but he couldn’t find an opening on the goalie.
The Terriers kept the pressure on the Friars, though, and O’Regan got the job done less than a minute later.
It was the first time BU erased a three-goal deficit since the 2011-12 season, when the Terriers did it twice — against UMass at Agganis and in the Hockey East quarterfinals against New Hampshire. Both games were decided by 5-4 scores, the first in overtime and the second in double overtime
“Obviously, we played a great road period the first period,’’ said PC coach Nate Leaman. “We got away from a lot of things that were making us successful.
“We played awful defense tonight. Defensively after the first period, I thought we were atrocious. We’re still a growing team and we’re still young.
“Sometimes a lesson has got to be like this.’’
Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.