NEW YORK -- The New York Rangers will need to win a lot of games the way they did Tuesday to go on the type of long, hard, bruising, magical, two-month run they confidently believe they can go on in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"Yeah, ugly a lot of the time," defenseman Jacob Trouba said.

The Rangers actually had skated to a relatively easy 4-1 win against the Washington Capitals in Game 1 on Sunday. It was kind of pretty at times, at least as pretty as a playoff game can get.

But Game 2 of the Eastern Conference First Round on Tuesday was different, more of what they expect.

They passed that test too. It's significant.

K'Andre Miller's short-handed goal at 16:52 of the second period was the difference in a 4-3 win against the Capitals at Madison Square Garden that gave the Rangers a 2-0 lead in the best-of-7 series heading into two days off before Game 3 at Capital One Arena in Washington on Friday.

"There's some good plays that were made, [Erik Gustafsson] with a couple great passes and obviously [Miller's] goal was impressive,” Trouba said, “but for most of the time it was just kind of a mucky, chip it out, chip it in, break it out, a breakout battle, kind of waiting for a costly turnover and you've got to make the plays that some of the guys made tonight. It was definitely more of a grinding game, more of the playoff feel."

That has to be the takeaway for the Rangers, other than the obvious “W” that extends their series lead and adds another puck in the case they'll bring with them to Washington.

Winning ugly matters in the playoffs. Winning ugly early in the playoffs builds the belief that you can win ugly all the time.

The Rangers have that now. They will need it.

"I expected that tonight, the way it played out, physical, some attitude and directness inside of the game," Rangers coach Peter Laviolette said. "I thought our guys responded pretty well. I thought it was a hard-fought game. I think that's good. Inside of a series and inside of what you hope is an opportunity to move on, you want to make sure you're building the right type of game and getting involved in that type of setting."

WSH@NYR R1, Gm2: Miller buries a SHG to give Rangers a 4-2 lead

Nothing came easy for the Rangers in Game 2.

They had to come back from giving up a goal to Washington center Connor McMichael 5:09 into the first period.

Vincent Trocheck scored on a deflection of Gustafsson's shot at 7:56, and Mika Zibanejad scored a power-play goal at 14:28 to give the Rangers a 2-1 lead at the first intermission.

"We were expecting them to come out hard," Trouba said. "They did. They got that first goal. Throughout the first period we responded pretty well, came back in here and felt decent about our game, had some good looks. We wanted to keep building."

The Capitals didn't let them.

Dylan Strome scored a power-play goal at 4:14 of the second period to make it 2-2.

Not only did the Rangers fail to respond on their own power play that started 20 seconds later, it took a big save from Igor Shesterkin to keep Martin Fehervary from scoring on a breakaway coming out of the penalty box at 6:39.

All the while, the hits kept coming, literally.

It was physical, kind of nasty in that good playoff way.

"I think we did a good job weathering it and bringing it to them when we needed to," forward Jack Roslovic said.

Roslovic scored a power-play goal to give the Rangers a 3-2 lead at 12:26 by finding the smallest of openings above goalie Charlie Lindgren's left shoulder and squeezing the puck into it from the right face-off circle.

Then Miller scored his pretty, short-handed goal off a rush with Zibanejad and Chris Kreider, and it looked like the Rangers were going to be OK up 4-2.

Except you're never OK with a two-goal lead in playoff hockey.

The Capitals pushed back again in the third, a pushback they did not have in Game 1 when they were down 3-1 after 40 minutes.

Tom Wilson scored a power-play goal at 11:45 to make it 4-3.

They pulled Lindgren with 2:48 remaining but had to put him back in for a face-off 34 seconds later. They won that face-off, he left again, and the Capitals kept the pressure on for the final 1:41, sustaining possession, stopping every Rangers clearing attempt, nearly wearing out New York's five skaters and Shesterkin, coming oh so close to tying it.

"But we hung in there and battled," Trouba said. "I mean, sometimes that's how you have to shut a game down. A little dirty, not the way you draw it up, but it's a win."

They have two. They need 14 more. A lot of them will have to be like this.

The Rangers always felt they'd be OK with that. They know for sure now.

"We've been proving it to ourselves for the whole year," Trouba said. "We've played in ugly games. We've come back in third periods. We found ways to win games that we'll come in here and not be overly excited [about] after because we know we didn't play our best hockey. But none of that matters right now. The only thing that matters is filling that thing up with pucks and getting wins. There's a little bit you take from it if you can win an ugly, dirty game, but we've already built that belief and that confidence in this group throughout the regular season."

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