Rangers center Chris Drury (23), left, and Michal Rozsival (23)...

Rangers center Chris Drury (23), left, and Michal Rozsival (23) celebrate with left winger Christopher Higgins. (Jan. 4, 2010) Credit: AP

Chris Higgins scored his first goal at Madison Square Garden this season with 1:29 left in the third period to rescue the Rangers, who blew a two-goal lead to the Bruins in a 1:36 span late in the period.

Higgins slipped by the Bruins' Johnny Boychuk along the left boards and his backhander at the left post beat goaltender Tuukka Rask. It was Higgins' fifth goal of the season, his first in 12 games, and the 3-2 game-winner last night. It was the Rangers' second victory in their past 10 home games.

"It's fortunate it came at the right time," said Higgins, who also has suffered droughts of 14 and 10 games in his first season since arriving from Montreal in the Scott Gomez trade. "Points have been hard to come by for a lot of players, including me," the Smithtown native said. "So to be able to contribute feels good. I think it's my first goal here since my first time here with the Canadiens, so it's been a while."

He'll also get some relief from his family.

"It's mostly my two younger brothers who have given me the most flak," Higgins said. "My old man doesn't tell me how to play anymore. Even the 14-year-old has a mouth on him. This is probably the second game of the year that no one's come. It figures."

That 2-0 lead, built on goals from Ales Kotalik on the power play in the first and Erik Christensen in the second, was rarefied air for the Rangers, who couldn't handle the prosperity.

Matt Hunwick's shorthander at 14:33 of the third after a misplay along the boards by Matt Gilroy and Marian Gaborik halved the lead and Blake Wheeler's shot over Henrik Lundqvist's glove tied it.

"We moved the puck around pretty well on the power play, got some shots and it was a big goal," Kotalik said of his seventh, and first since Nov. 5, on the power play at 9:58 of the first. It was the first time in six games that the Rangers (20-18-4) scored first.

Christensen, who has four points in the three games since he was moved to center on the No. 1 line, doubled the lead at 7:34 of the second, breaking past defenseman Zdeno Chara and shoveling a one-hander past Rask. The two-goal lead should have been enough as the previous four games between the teams, dating to last season, all ended 1-0.

"It wasn't pretty. They tried to jam you in the neutral zone, but we found a way to win," Kotalik said.

Brandon Dubinsky, who had two assists, delivered four hits and drove the net all night, has adjusted well after being switched from center to left wing. He has nine points in the last seven games, including the game-winner against Carolina on New Year's Eve.

"I certainly think it's an easier position and a simpler position," he said. "You have to clear your mind, chip pucks in and be strong along the wall. It takes a little time to get used to, but it's been pretty good.

"I thought we played a solid game, they found a way to score in the third, but a big play by Higgins, and we get two points, which is big at home, where we've been struggling."

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