The top-seeded New York Rangers exploded for three goals in the second period before fending off a late Ottawa rally to force a Game Seven decider in their Eastern Conference first-round series with a 3-2 win on Monday.

One day after the West top seeds Vancouver were dumped from the playoffs, Derek Stepan, Brad Richards and Chris Kreider scored unanswered second-period goals to overturn a 1-0 deficit and even up the best-of-seven series at 3-3.

"��(Tonight) is the way we need to play and that's the way we're going to continue to play," Stepan told reporters after adding two assists in the triumph.

New York's rousing second period effort gave them a two-goal advantage but eighth seeds Ottawa raised their intensity in the third and powered home a contentious goal from Jason Spezza with 39 seconds remaining but ultimately came up short.

The Rangers will believe they have regained control of the series and will host Game Seven in New York on Thursday confident of advancing to the next round.

Henrik Lundqvist made 25 saves for the Rangers, who finally aided his efforts after two straight defeats by ending their scoring drought.

The slump began in Saturday's shutout loss and carried over through the first period where Ottawa's Chris Neil gave the home team a 1-0 lead and goaltender Craig Anderson kept New York at bay.

20-year-old Kreider, seizing an opportunity to shine in injured forward Brian Boyle's absence, turned out to be the difference with his second period-capping goal while Richards added an assist.

(Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by John O'Brien)