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Rangers’ depth proving to be difference early on in first round matchup with Capitals

It takes everyone in the playoffs.

To make a serious run at the Stanley Cup, teams know they need unexpected heroes to step up and they have to receive contributions from up and down their lineup on both ends of the ice each night.

That’s been the case for the top-seeded Rangers as they kicked off their opening-round matchup with the Washington Capitals with a pair of victories on home ice.

In Game 1 it was the fourth line that stepped up and contributed two of the team’s four goals, with Matt Rempe and Jimmy Vesey finding the back of the net during a second-period frenzy.

Then on Wednesday, it was trade deadline acquisition Jack Roslovic who put the Rangers in front with his first career playoff goal on a beautiful snipe on the power play midway through the second period.

K’Andre Miller added a shorthanded goal off a terrific passing play from Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider just a few minutes later, which ultimately proved to be the difference in the thrilling 4-3 win.

“When it comes down to these types of games we talked about needing everyone and I feel like everyone has been stepping up and playing their roles and contributing in a lot of ways, which is a positive,” said Zibanejad, who also added a goal on Wednesday.

Zibanejad (who had a bit of a disappointing regular season) and Kreider have been fantastic so far in the postseason, tallying a combined two goals and three assists over the first two games.

Fresh off his MVP-caliber campaign, Artemi Panarin has looked much more confident compared to last postseason, when he struggled in a disappointing series loss to the crosstown rival Devils. Alexis Lafreniere and Vincent Trocheck have also been terrific playing alongside him on New York's dominant second line.

But it’s been the depth at the bottom of the lineup that’s helped the Blueshirts jump out to a commanding lead heading into Games 3 and 4 at Capital One Arena -- and the head coach isn't surprised.

“All year it's been that way,” Peter Laviolette said. “Like everybody, we dealt with some injuries and had to rely on a lot of different people, but guys stepped up. Now we're back healthy for the most part and we're able to get some balance on the lines up front and on the back end.

“I do think that it’s helpful through the course of the regular season and certainly through the playoffs, where the bump and grind and the longevity comes into it, it’s really good to have that depth.”