DURHAM— Well, it sure beat the alternative. And the last time the Friars came to town.
Senior forward Scott Pavelski, a few minutes after freshman goalie Jon Gillies made a highlight-reel save on Kevin Goumas, scored with 3:26 left in regulation to lift No. 4-ranked New Hampshire to a 3-3 tie with Providence College in front of 4,302 at the Whittemore Center.
"It's a kind of a disappointment, we've been struggling of late," Pavelski said. "But standings-wise, we need to get as many points as possible. So to tie it up late, that's good. We're happy with the one point. You only wish it could be two."
The Wildcats are now 16-7-3 overall and 11-6-2 in Hockey East.
They went into the night in sole possession of second place in the league and hoping to catch first-place Boston College.
They came out of it tied for second after Merrimack beat Massachusetts, 4-2, to match UNH's 11-6-2 record. UNH and Merrimack trail BC by a point.
"We'll take the tie," said UNH coach Dick Umile. "It's better than losing the game, I'll tell you that."
Sprawled on the ice after making a save on an Eric Knodel shot from out front, the 6-foot-5 Gillies managed to reach back and glove the Goumas bid on the rebound to keep his team in front, 3-2.
"After the save he made on Goumas, I didn't think we were ever going to get it by him," Umile said. "He made a spectacular save. He made some saves early in the game that were phenomenal. In the first five minutes we could have been ahead by a couple of goals."
Gillies, whose father Bruce played goal at UNH in the 1980s, stopped 41 shots for the game and all 17 he saw in the first period.
"That's definitely a Top Ten on SportsCenter," said Goumas on the save Gillies made on him. "He got his glove up there pretty good. If I had kept it on the ice, I think I could have had him."
Pavelski soon converted Casey Thrush's pass from behind the net for the tying goal.
"It was a great shot by Pavelski," Umile said.
Casey DeSmith, a sophomore from Rochester, had 39 saves for UNH, including five in overtime
Providence is 10-10-6 and 8-6-5 and moved into a fourth-place tie with Boston University.
The Friars won the first game of the season series at the Whittemore Center three weeks ago. They jumped out to a 4-0 lead halfway through that game and held on for a 6-5 decision.
The Wildcats and Friars go at it one more time in the regular season in Providence on Wednesday night in a game that was postponed from Friday by the storm. The PC athletics website has listed the game as a sellout.
Like they did last time here, the Friars grabbed a 1-0 first-period lead despite being outshot badly.
This time, Gillies stopped all 17 shots in the frame and John Gilmour scored for Providence on the power play with 6:33 left in the period.
Unlike last time when UNH fell into a 4-0 hole midway through the second period, this time they tied it with a Grayson Downing goal with 5:08 left in the period.
The Wildcats took their first lead in the two games with PC this season with a power-play goal just 30 seconds into the third period. Dan Correale scored it from in tight with assists going to Grayson Downing, who was working behind the net, and Trevor van Riemsdyk.
The Friars tied it again at 2-2 with a Nick Saracino power-play goal at 5:05 and then took the lead on a Saracino blast at 9:35.
Gillies kept it 3-2 with his huge save on Goumas.
Pavelski then got one past Gillies on the stick side for 3-3 with 3:26 left to go. Pavelski was to the goalie's right and Thrush set him up from behind the net.
Providence scored on its first two power plays, but UNH killed the third that extended from the end of the third period into overtime ... UNH was 1-for-2 on the power play.