Midway through the game, the raucous crowd at Madison Square Garden was on edge, watching the Rangers cling to a 1-0 lead against Ottawa's potent offense. A timeout by coach John Tortorella changed everything, helping the Rangers claim the upper hand in their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.
Four players on three forward lines scored for the Blueshirts, Henrik Lundqvist stopped the first 27 shots he faced, and the top-seeded Rangers thundered past the eighth-seeded Senators.
It was the first time the Rangers won a Game 1 at home since a 6-3 victory over Washington in the 1994 Eastern Conference Semifinals.
"I thought we played really well," said Lundqvist, who finished the game with 30 saves on 32 shots. "We played hard and made good decisions out there. The second period was key for us. They came pretty hard, and we made some good decisions with the puck, and at the end of the second period, we scored some big goals."
The Rangers led 1-0 after 12 minutes on Ryan Callahan's rebound goal -- the New York captain held off Senators defenseman Filip Kuba to direct an Anton Stralman rebound past Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson. However, Ottawa was able to tilt the ice toward the Rangers' end in the early stages of the second period. While Lundqvist proved equal to Ottawa's challenge, Tortorella didn't like what he saw, and he called timeout 9:55 into the middle frame.
"We settled ourselves down," Tortorella said. "We didn't get hurt. Our goaltender was really good at that time, and then we found a way."
The timeout had the desired effect, as the Rangers outshot Ottawa 8-2 following the timeout and blew the game open with a pair of goals in the last five minutes before the second intermission.
Marian Gaborik made it 2-0 at 16:24 with an unassisted tally. After New York's Carl Hagelin was dispossessed along the right wing boards, Gaborik collected the puck, curled to the front of the net unimpeded, and beat Anderson through the five-hole.
Brian Boyle made it 3-0 with just 53.8 seconds left in the second period with his first career playoff goal. Boyle collected the puck off the stick of Artem Anisimov and fired it to the top corner of the net on Anderson's stick side. Anisimov, who also picked up an assist on Callahan's goal, was named the game's third star behind Lundqvist and Callahan.
"They gave it to us pretty good," said Anderson, who finished with 27 saves on 31 shots. "They got a couple of goals there late in the second, kind of took momentum, and we weren't really able to get ourselves back in it after that."
Rangers center Brad Richards made it 4-0 just 2:15 into the third period, scoring his first playoff goal since 2008. Hagelin won a battle behind the net with Senators left wing Nick Foligno, then found Richards in front of the net for the goal.
"The last four, maybe five minutes of the second period is when we end up giving up a couple of goals, and early in the third period," Ottawa coach Paul MacLean said. "If you could take away those six minutes, we are pretty happy with how we played the game."
Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson put his team on the board at 10:05 of the final frame, redirecting a shot from the point by Jason Spezza past his Swedish countryman Lundqvist. Erik Condra made it 4-2 at 17:41, scoring his first career playoff goal on assists from Foligno and Kyle Turris.
"It's nice to get a couple of goals to make us feel a little bit better," Senators defenseman Sergei Gonchar said, "but we know we have to be better on Saturday. We get one day to regroup and get ready."
MacLean said, "We will build on the 54 minutes we played reasonably well in the game, and try to see what we can do to correct the six minutes that we didn't."
The second game of the series is scheduled for Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.
NOTES: The Rangers opened the Stanley Cup playoffs at home for the first time since the 1996 season. They lost the first two games at home to Montreal before winning four straight games to clinch that series. ... New York Mets pitcher Jonathon Niese and former New York Knicks stars Larry Johnson and John Starks were in attendance, in addition to TV personality Dr. Mehmet Oz and actresses Susan Lucci and Edie Falco. ... The Rangers were 21-3-3 in the regular season when leading after the first period, 30-0-3 when leading after the second.