NEW YORK - The New York Rangers allowed the Flyers to hang around longer than they would have liked, which is why they weren't gloating after their 4-1 win Thursday in the opening game of the first-round playoff series

Even though the Flyers scored first, the Rangers came back to tie in the first period and then applied serous pressure with nothing to show for it through the second.

The Rangers outshot the Flyers, 23-14, in the first two periods before turning truly dominant by having a 13-1 shot advantage in the third period, when they scored three goals.

Still, the Rangers didn't pull away until the double- minor high-sticking penalty on Jason Akeson resulted in two power play goals by Brad Richards and Derek Stepan in 47 seconds midway through the period.

So despite an impressive first win, and a ninth consecutive victory over the Flyers at Madison Square Garden, the theme for the Rangers was humility, along with a feeling that they will see an improved Flyers team in Game 2 on Sunday.

Defenseman Ryan McDonagh said the Rangers felt good about the win, but understand that the Flyers likely won't be limited to just 15 shots the next time out.

"They are going to do some things to try to counter and do better so we have to do the same," said McDonagh, who was named the Rangers' regular-season MVP.

While McDonagh expects the Flyers to be better, the Rangers defenseman, who got off to a rough start in the game, should also see improvement. Thursday's game was his first action after missing the final five regular-season games with an injured left shoulder. He admitted to some rust.

"I was not myself and just couldn't get a good grip on the puck, couldn't feel my skates, but the guys stayed positive with me and I found a way to contribute," McDonagh said.

Another player who came on stronger as the game went on was 38-year-old forward Martin St. Louis, who had two assists on the two third period power-play goals.

St. Louis, who won the Stanley Cup in 2004 with Tampa Bay, was appearing in his 64th playoff game, but first with the Rangers. He was acquired March 5 from Tampa Bay in exchange for Ryan Callahan, a 2014 second-round pick, and a 2015 first-rounder.

"I think we're all anxious to play that first one, especially myself," St. Louis said. "It's nice to get that first one out of the way and end up on the good side of things, and now we're just going to try building up."

Then he sounded a common theme emanating from the Rangers locker room.

"There are plenty of areas to get better at and we will focus on Game 2," he said.

So while the Flyers expect to improve, the Rangers do as well. More important, both teams hope to quickly forget Game 1.

"It's one game," said goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who has been in net in all nine games during the current nine-game MSG win-streak over the Flyers. "We have to start over again on Sunday."