NEW YORK -- A dominant first period by the New York Rangers on Tuesday seemed to be the perfect way to put the first two games of their Eastern Conference Second Round series behind them.
But after a 4-1 win against the Ottawa Senators in Game 3 at Madison Square Garden, the Rangers insisted it was already behind them, thanks to some extra time to regroup.
"Honestly, it was probably the [second] day off after Game 2," Rangers center Derek Stepan said. "Honestly. We lost an emotional one [to the Montreal Canadiens in the first round] and we came back here and we just weren't able to put a game together in Game 3 against Montreal. So to be able to have that extra day was nice."
[WATCH: All Senators vs. Rangers highlights | RELATED: Complete New York vs. Ottawa series coverage]
Mats Zuccarello, Michael Grabner, Rick Nash and Oscar Lindberg scored, and Henrik Lundqvist made 26 saves for the Rangers, who blew a two-goal lead late in the third period of a 6-5 double-overtime loss at Ottawa on Saturday.
The Senators lead the best-of-7 series 2-1 with Game 4 here Thursday.
Video: OTT@NYR, Gm3: Grabner slips puck past Anderson
"To be honest, they started a lot more desperate than us and they continued to push and we couldn't catch up," Senators defenseman Dion Phaneuf said. "When you chase the game, especially against a really good hockey team, you're chasing the game and you're digging out the whole time and that's what happened to us tonight."
Nash scored his third goal of the Stanley Cup Playoffs at 12:21 of the second period when he took a pass from Stepan on a 2-on-1 and beat Craig Anderson with a wrist shot from the left circle to make it 3-0.
Video: OTT@NYR, Gm3: Nash finishes a two-on-one rush
Lindberg made it 4-0 when J.T. Miller sent a pass across the crease for a one-timer at 18:17. It was Lindberg's first Stanley Cup Playoff goal.
Grabner made it 2-0 at 13:24 of the first period when Zuccarello sent the puck around the boards and rookie defenseman Ben Harpur misplayed it behind the net with Anderson out of the crease, allowing Grabner to score on a wraparound for his fourth of the playoffs.
New York outshot Ottawa 15-5 in the first period.
"I think the extra day off was very beneficial for us, both mentally and physically," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. "I felt that we played well in Ottawa and probably deserved better. It didn't happen. That's part of hockey. No doubt, we had to bounce back tonight. We were able to get a good practice in [Monday] and focus on our process and what we had to do, and that's what we did. We came to play and won this game. Now we've got to focus on the next one."
Video: OTT@NYR, Gm3: Miller weaves past D to feed Lindberg
Anderson made 26 saves.
"The game was lost in the first period," Senators coach Guy Boucher said. "They were ready, they were hungry, they were desperate and we didn't match that at all. That's it."
Goal of the game
Zuccarello gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead 5:31 into the game. Mika Zibanejad outworked Harpur behind the Senators net and sent the puck into the slot, where Zuccarello quickly shot it past Anderson.
Video: OTT@NYR, Gm3: Zuccarello buries Zibanejad's feed
Save of the game
Lundqvist preserved a 4-1 lead when he got his left pad on Clarke MacArthur's rebound attempt with 5:24 remaining in the third period.
Video: OTT@NYR, Gm3: Lundqvist robs MacArthur in front
Highlight of the game
The Senators made it 4-1 when Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored his sixth of the playoffs. He took a backhand pass from behind the net by Bobby Ryan and one-timed a shot from point-blank range past Lundqvist with 1:11 left in the second period.
Video: OTT@NYR, Gm3: Pageau buries Ryan's no-look dish
Unsung performance of the game
Rangers defenseman Brendan Smith blocked three shots, had three hits and was plus-1 in 19:39 of ice time.
They said it
"[I] wouldn't say [we were] dominated. We just didn't play the way we wanted. We were facing a good, fast team, a team that's top of the League offensively, so our goalie saved us a couple times, but we didn't play the way we wanted. No one here is probably satisfied with their effort, so I think it's a good lesson and focus on next game." -- Senators forward Jean-Gabriel Pageau
"Come tomorrow, it doesn't mean anything. We have to move to Game 4. We're still down in the series 2-1. We did a lot of good things that can help our confidence, but after tonight it doesn't mean anything. All that matters now is that it's 2-1 and we go to Game 4." -- Rangers center Derek Stepan
Need to know
Ryan left the game with 12:37 remaining because of a lower-body injury. Senators forward Zack Smith (upper body) did not play after the first period. They will be re-evaluated Wednesday. ... Rangers forward Tanner Glass, who had been a healthy scratch since Game 4 of the first round against the Canadiens, was back in the lineup. Forward Pavel Buchnevich was a healthy scratch. ... New York lost Game 2 to Montreal 4-3 in overtime after the Canadiens tied the game with 18 seconds left in the third period, then lost Game 3-1 at home two days later. The Rangers won the series in six games.
Game 4 of Eastern Conference Second Round at Madison Square Garden on Thursday (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports)
Video: Zuccarello, Lundqvist lead Rangers to Game 3 win