MONTREAL – Character? Hard work? Urgency? His head coach asked for all three and Christopher Higgins flashed all of the above in a huge comeback win over the Kings.
Trudging his way through the most difficult season of his young career, Higgins sprang to life when his teammates needed him most, scoring the tying goal against Los Angeles in spectacular fashion.
With rookie defenseman Drew Doughty bearing down on him, Higgins calmly resorted to a stiff arm move that could serve either the Steelers or Cardinals well in Super Bowl XLIII. Higgins then shook free and swooped in on a breakaway before beating Kings goalie Jonathan Quick up high.
“I saw [Doughty] coming towards me and I knew he was going to hit me, so I just hit him first,” said Higgins. “It was one of the nicer goals I’ve scored and I’m just glad it came at a good time.
“When you’re in the middle of a tough stretch like we were right now, it starts to feel like the walls are closing in on you. After four losses in a row you feel like you’re playing in a closet,” explained Higgins after scoring his first goal since November 26. “I wouldn’t categorize this as a personal relief, but more of a team relief. We really needed this one.”
Having missed over a month with a separated shoulder, Higgins has only six goals on the season, well below his career-high of 27 notched a year ago. Personal stats are nonetheless the last thing on the winger's mind these days.
“When you start worrying about your goals and points, that’s when your game suffers and you start doing the wrong things,” explained Higgins. “I’m just going to keep working hard and playing my game.”
Few players in the Habs’ dressing room understand what Higgins can bring to the table like his former longtime linemate.
“We all know what Chris can do when he uses his speed. He’s shown that many times before,” said Saku Koivu, who got to score the winner thanks to Higgins' goal. “That’s exactly what he did on his goal today to tie up the game.”
The Higgins admiration society also includes his old buddy Mike Komisarek.
“We all came into this game wanting to pay the price and put in that extra effort. Higgy’s goal was a perfect example of that,” said Komisarek. “Chris battled for that puck before scoring that goal. He really was the difference for us today.”Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.com Read also:Fly on the Wall - Jan. 31, 2009 The Numbers Game: Jan. 31, 2009 Saturday Crossword - Jan. 31, 2009