Artemi Panarin celebrates with Chris Kreider after scoring a goal...

Artemi Panarin celebrates with Chris Kreider after scoring a goal during the third period in Game 4 of a first-round playoff series against the Washington Capitals on Sunday. Credit: AP/Tom Brenner

In case you missed it, the Rangers completed a sweep of their first-round series against the Capitals on Sunday night in Washington, becoming the first team to advance to the second round of the NHL playoffs.

Of course, that was expected, given the fact that the Rangers won the Presidents’ Trophy as the team with the best regular-season record and the Capitals were the last team into the playoff party, earning the last spot by winning their final game.

Everyone also knows the rest of the playoffs won’t be this easy for the Rangers.

“We won the series, so it’s good,’’ Artemi Panarin said Sunday after the Rangers completed their first sweep in the playoffs since 2007. “[But] we have to be better, for sure, in the second round. There are better teams in the second round.’’

The Capitals were never good enough to actually threaten the Rangers. Their 220 goals in the regular season were by far the fewest of any playoff team, and their best player is 38-year-old Alex Ovechkin, who was held without a point in a playoff series for the first time in his magnificent 18-year career.

And so the Rangers did what they were supposed to do, making quick work of the Capitals. Were they spectacular in doing so? No, they were not. They did just enough to win, getting some fine goaltending from Igor Shesterkin and relying heavily on their special teams. They scored six power-play goals in 16 attempts (37.5%), killed 15 of 17 penalties (88.2%) and scored two shorthanded goals, both winners.

Next up will be the winner of the Islanders-Hurricanes series, which Carolina leads 3-1. The Hurricanes can wrap things up in Game 5 on Tuesday night in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Carolina, which finished second to the Rangers in the Metropolitan Division and third overall in the league, is the betting favorite to win the Stanley Cup. So the Rangers know the challenge the Hurricanes will pose if they become the opponent.

And if the Islanders become the fifth team in NHL history to rally from a 3-0 deficit to win a series, well, we know just how intense a battle of New York would be in a playoff setting.

The sweep earned the Rangers a few days off, which could be a key factor in helping them make a long playoff run. After off days on Monday and Tuesday, they’ll return to practice on Wednesday. Coach Peter Laviolette said the team will put the time to good use. They have a chance to get some rest, spend some quality time at home with their families, watch some of the other playoff series and putter around the house while they wait to find out whom and when they’ll play next.

“It seemed like we had six days going into this first playoff [series] and it was really good for our group,’’ Laviolette said Sunday night. “We were able to get some rest right off the bat, because the schedule was every other day for a month. And it gave plenty of time to prepare and . . . time to actually work on things on the ice. And so there’s a real value in [time off], where you can start to look at both opponents until you find out which one you’re actually going to play.

“I do think the rest is important,’’ he added. “[But] there’s probably a lot of [evidence] that a team that’s gone seven and has to walk right out of a Game 7 overtime win and walk into the next series, they’re right on point with their game, too. So it can go both ways.

“We’ll do our best to be ready.’’

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