Rapid Reaction: Rangers 2, Senators 1

Recap | Box score | Photos

What it means: In a nail-biter of a Game 7 that lived up to an exciting and evenly matched first-round series, the Rangers held on to outlast the Senators and advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals with a 2-1 win at Madison Square Garden.

The Senators cut into the Rangers' 2-0 lead in the second period and threatened a late-game comeback in the third, but the Blueshirts kept a white-knuckle grip on their one-goal lead to advance to Round 2. The Rangers now move on to face the seventh-seeded Washington Capitals.

Rookie rules: In what was his best game as a Ranger so far, rookie Chris Kreider made a spectacular play to set up the game's first goal. Kreider, who signed an entry-level deal with the team just weeks ago, forced Senators forward Nick Foligno to cough the puck up along the boards, creating a rush for the Rangers. Marc Staal then buried a beautiful feed from center Derek Stepan to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead at 4:46 in the second.

Banner night for blue line: The Rangers took a 2-0 lead in the second period with key contributions from defensemen Staal and Dan Girardi. Kreider's hustle play in the neutral zone led to Staal's first goal. Girardi tallied from the slot midway through the period at 9:04.

Captain comes through: In his second game back from a concussion, Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson unleashed a blast from the point for a power-play goal to cut the Rangers' lead in half, 2-1 at 11:34 of the second. The man-up marker was his second goal of the playoffs.

Hostile crowd: The Madison Square Garden crowd wasted no time making the visiting team feel its wrath, serenading Senators antagonist Chris Neil with various taunts and jeers. When a bold faction of Ottawa fans tried starting the team's 11-minute-mark chant for Alfredsson, Blueshirts faithful countered back with their own less-friendly variation.

Early chances: The Rangers had a couple of their best chances of the night within the first 5:11 minutes of play but came away scoreless. Senators goaltender Craig Anderson denied Marian Gaborik on a 2-on-1 rush at 2:58. Minutes later, Girardi shot wide when facing an open net with Anderson tangled up with Brandon Prust behind the net.

Up Next: Rangers vs. Capitals, 3 p.m. Saturday at the Garden.