We watched from the Blue Seats last night as the Rangers tried to hand away yet another game late in the third period, and we began to write the introduction to this post in our mind. (We find this is a less obnoxious strategy for coping with such losses than yelling expletives at fourth-liners who don’t really deserve it.) Anyway, certain that the Rangers were going to lose after allowing two goals to the Bruins in less than 90 seconds — the second of which came with just 4:01 remaining — we were going to recall how this team was supposed to be so much better conditioned this year, and how this meant they’d be stronger and faster in third periods. Then we’d wonder why, if this were the case, they seem to lose so many games in the final minutes of the third period, as they were poised to do last night.
Then a weird thing happened: They didn’t lose. And they didn’t lose because of the last person on the ice we’d expect to score: Christopher Higgins. Higgins, for those who haven’t watched a lot of Rangers games this year, was acquired this past summer in the salary-dump trade of Scott Gomez to Montreal. He went more than a month before scoring his first goal as a Ranger, and last night’s was his first goal since December 9. His lack of production is all the more frustrating given the inordinate number of golden scoring opportunities he’s squandered. Considering his fondness for missing open nets, it’s ironic that his game winner last night with 1:29 remaining was stuffed past goalie Tuukka Rask with seemingly no space for the puck at all.
As for our original point, Higgins’s goal doesn’t change the fact that the Rangers almost gave away another win in the last five minutes (it’s been something of a Henrik Lundqvist specialty this year), and that they don’t generally look any better conditioned than their opponents late in games. But no sense in being negative after such an exciting ending — especially after a game that also gave us the goal of the (five-day-old) year, courtesy of Erik Christensen.