Chris Kreider of the Rangers celebrates his first-period goal against the Lightning during...

Chris Kreider of the Rangers celebrates his first-period goal against the Lightning during Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final with teammates Mika Zibanejad and Frank Vatrano at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday. Credit: Jim McIsaac

GREENBURGH, N.Y. – The word that came up most often during the regular season in trying to describe the Rangers was resiliency. They had 27 come-from-behind wins, second-most in the league, and not until the final week of the season did they lose three games in a row in regulation. In the playoffs, they’ve rallied from 3-1 and 2-0 series deficits, winning five elimination games along the way.

Resiliency, though, isn’t a trait exclusive to the Rangers. The word also applies to the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning.  The Rangers won Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final on Wednesday, 6-2, at Madison Square Garden, but it’s a certainty that Tampa Bay is not discouraged by being down 1-0 in the best-of-seven series.

The Lightning almost seem to take playoff losses personally: Tampa Bay is 17-0 after a loss in the playoffs the last three years. That includes this year’s first-round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs in which the Lightning trailed 1-0, 2-1, and 3-2 before rallying to win.

Although that record impresses the Rangers, it hardly intimidates them.

“I've read that they're 17-0 after a loss,’’ Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said Thursday. “That doesn't matter to me. It really doesn't. I mean, they didn't beat us 17 times. They beat other teams. So we’ve just got to get ready to play our game, and go play.’’

Of course, the Rangers expect the Lightning, who showed some rust in Game 1 after being off for eight days after their sweep over the Florida Panthers in the second round, to be annoyed, motivated and just flat out better in Game 2 Friday. But they promised they’ll be ready for that.

“They're going to be ready to play,’’ Gallant said. “You don't win two Stanley Cups and not be ready to play at this time of the year. So, we will expect their push back. But we're going to play our game again. We're going to play the best we can and worry about playing our game.’’

“We liked our game in Game 1 and that's what we want to do in Game 2,’’ forward Alexis Lafrenière said Thursday. “The crowd (at MSG) was unbelievable and it really helped us. But they're going to come back (with) a big game for sure. So we have to be ready and have to be on our toes.’’

Lafrenière’s Kid Line linemate, Filip Chytil, scored two goals, including the game-winner in Game 1, and Igor Shesterkin outplayed Tampa Bay goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, making 37 saves in the victory. The Rangers also got goals from each member of the top line – Chris Kreider, Frank Vatrano and Mika Zibanejad – as well as one from Artemi Panarin.

It was the first time in the playoffs that the Rangers have won Game 1 of a series, and the first time they have led a series. Lafrenière, though, said the Rangers won’t be looking to change anything just because they’re playing with a lead, as opposed to playing desperate, backs-to-the-wall hockey.

“I think we always try to play the same way,’’ he said. “Obviously, it's different playing with the lead, but like you said, it's our first lead. So it's good to have it, and we're going to try to keep playing the same way.

“For us it's just … try to defend first, limit their chances, and I think, with the skills we have, we're going to get our chances offensively,’’ he added. “So (we have to) really focus on ourselves, and try to be as ready as we can.’’

More Rangers