Vin Hellemeyer had two goals and Peter Cohen stopped 24 shots as Yale beat Princeton 6-1 before a sellout crowd of 3,486.
A 2-0 contest at the second intermission quickly became a rout, with the home team scoring two goals in 16 seconds on the first shift of the third period.
It was Yale’s third win in a row and second over Princeton this week. The Elis, who outshot the Tigers 40-25 and got a goal and two assists from Nick Deschenes and Chris Higgins, have now won six of their last seven games — a stretch in which the Bulldogs have scored 40 goals — and are in second place in the conference.
“We have a good group of skillful forwards,” said Yale head coach Tim Taylor. “We have a balanced attack with not one line relied upon for all the scoring. It would be hard to say [the offensive explosiveness] will continue, but it certainly is nice and we will enjoy it while we can.”
The Bulldogs, who had three power plays in the opening 20 minutes, dominated the first period by outshooting the Tigers, 16-4, but Clay came up big on numerous point-blank chances to keep the game scoreless.
“He was one of the few guys for us who battled and competed from start to finish,” said Princeton head coach Len Quesnelle.
But the Bulldogs did not let Clay’s big saves in the early- to mid-stages of the game affect their approach.
“We knew we were going to score because we knew we could keep creating chances,” Hellemeyer said.
Taylor said the key for Yale was to maintain a defensive focus.
“You always have to preach defense against a team like that,” Taylor said. “You have to believe the first goal will come and we should eventually get the edge offensively.”
Yale continued to bombard the Princeton net with shots but the visitors had the best scoring chance early in the second period with a two-minute, two-man advantage. Cohen made three saves on that power play and the Elis did a great job of keeping the puck out of their zone, clearing five times.
“That was the real turning point,” said Taylor. “Any time you have a 5-on-3 for a full two minutes, it’s quite a challenge. We did a good job on that kill.”
It took 20 shots on Clay, but Yale finally cashed in on a chance a little less than six minutes later. Deschenes stole the puck from a Princeton defenseman behind the Tiger net and fed Hellemeyer, who was charging the goal. The junior right wing quickly snapped it low past Clay’s glove for the game’s first score at 9:38, his third of the season.
The Bulldogs made it 2-0 at 13:46 of the second after a scramble outside the crease and a number of Yale players flailing at the puck. Evan Wax was credited with the goal, assisted by Ryan Steeves and Christian Jensen.
Goals 16 seconds apart in the opening minute of the final frame by Deschenes and Higgins broke open a close contest. Deschenes tallied 10 seconds in after taking a pass from Joe Callahan and beating Clay on the near side.
On the next goal, Hellemeyer led Higgins with a pass; the sophomore star skated in with a defender on his hip before getting off a nasty backhander from 18 feet that never left the ice but slipped inside the left post.
The Bulldogs, who scored on the first three shots of the third period, made it three goals in 3:07 while nailing their first power-play goal on their fifth try of the evening. It was also Hellemeyer’s second goal of the night and fourth of the year as he took a pass from Deschenes and flipped a 20-footer from the right circle into the net to make it 5-0.
Junior wing Mike Klema picked up his first goal of the season to make it 6-0 at 14:15. Klema hauled in a pass from Jeff Hristovski at the top of the left circle, then skated around a defender before deking Clay to the ice and flipping it over him.
Princeton finally got on the board when Sebastian Borza banged home a pass from Patrick Neundorfer on the power play at 17:27, which ended Cohen’s hope for his first career shutout.
“I really wanted us to be able to get Cohen his first goose-egg,” Taylor said. “Because I think he certainly played well enough to deserve it.”
After a four-save first period, Cohen stopped 10 shots in both the second and third frames.
“It is tough to get into the game sometimes when you face so few shots early,” Cohen said. “But we are playing really well defensively right now.”
Travel partners Yale and Princeton host Harvard and Brown next weekend.