It was ugly, disjointed and undisciplined, and then in one quick flick of Martin St. Louis’ wrists, all of the maladies faded.

What was left for the Rangers was pure bliss, a 3-2 overtime win over the Canadiens in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference final, and just one win between the Blueshirts and the Stanley Cup final.
“I’ve jumped on him a few times in overtime before,” said Brad Richards, “and it never gets old.”

Richards, teammates with St. Louis for seven seasons in Tampa Bay before being reunited at the trade deadline this March, and the Rangers, survived a playoff game with dire implications that was played as if both the teams were still thinking about all the verbal jousting that has become the underlying theme of the series.

But then six minutes into overtime, all of the crowd stood on its feet, all of the Rangers rose from the bench, and Carl Hagelin slid the puck across the ice to St. Louis, the future Hall of Famer left alone at the right dot.

“Right when I got it, I just saw their ‘D’ in front of me and I saw him chilling there on the right side,” Hagelin said from under the Broadway Hat. “It’s a great finish by him.”

A great finish indeed, one St. Louis practices “every time he’s on the ice, like a hundred pucks,” according to coach Alain Vigneault. Settling it down, picking the top-right corner, and giving the Rangers a commanding 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven contest, a chance to finish off The Yapping Habs on Tuesday night in the Bell Centre.

“This is far from over,” said Richards, the de facto captain, easily remembering how his Rangers came back from the same 3-1 deficit against the Penguins in the second round. “They will feel bad tonight, but tomorrow they will wake up in front of their home crowd and once that game starts, 3-1, you throw that out the window.”