At least from a sports fan’s perspective, tonight was as awesome as a night could get. First Brad Richards saved the Rangers from certain defeat by nudging the puck past Washington goaltender Braden Holtby and defenseman John Carlson with six seconds left in regulation time. With 21 seconds to go, Washington’s Joel Ward accidentally whacked Carl Hagelin in the face with his stick. The resulting double minor allowed the Rangers to create a six-on-four advantage (with goalie Henrik Lundqvist on the bench) that led to the equalizer.
Just a couple of minutes later, Jordany Valdespin came up for the Mets with two runners on and a tie score in the top of the ninth inning. Valdespin had just been sent down the day before to make room for medicore relief pitcher D.J. Carrasco, but he was called back up once regular shortstop Ruben Tejada was forced to the disabled list with a strained quad.
Now in a pinch-hitter role against Philadelphia reliever Jonathan Papelbon, Valdespin golfed an 0-1 breaking ball over the right field wall for his first major league hit, his first major league home run and a place in the hearts of Mets fans everywhere. The Mets went on to win 5-2, as their own closer, Frank Francisco, managed to close the door on Philly.
The miracles were not over yet. In the first two minutes of overtime, with Washington still trying to kill off the Ward double minor, John Mitchell won a face-off in the attack zone to get the puck to Marc Staal. Stall ripped a shot that deflected off of a Capital player and over Holtby’s shoulder into the back of the net to give New York an improbable victory.
Unbelievable. What really looked like a dreadful night for both the Rangers and Mets turned into complete ecstasy. Nights like this don’t come around very often, so I’m going to try to savor it. More on these games (and hopefully an update on Josh Thole’s condition) in the morning.