This was a different effort produced by a different Rangers team in a different kind of game than the ones in Washington that had preceded it.

This was a tenacious and compelling blue-collar performance in which the Blueshirts all but willed themselves to a 4-3 victory over the Capitals at the Garden last night in a frantic Game 3 that never settled down and never stopped.

Just like the Rangers themselves, who climbed within 2-1 in this best-of-seven first-round series that continues tomorrow night on Broadway, sealing it with a penalty kill over the final 1:54 after giving back a 2-1 lead late in the second and a 3-2 lead in the eighth minute of the third period.

“We faced the kinds of situations that can either make you or break you,” said Ryan McDonagh, whose strong play on the left wall ignited the sequence on which Derek Stepan got the winner at 13:35 of the third on a redirect in front of a Rick Nash sharp-angle shot from the right. “We never gave in.”

Marc Staal made an emotional return to the lineup after missing the final 27 matches of the regular season and the first two games of this series with the right eye injury he sustained when struck by a deflected shot on March 5.

The alternate captain was, pardon the expression, a sight for sore eyes. More than that, Staal — who played with a visor for the first time in his NHL career — gave the team a solid 17:17 of play paired with Anton Stralman. His presence was an energizing force and a balancing one as well, with coach John Tortorella allotting between 15:50 and 22:58 to his six defensemen.

“I thought he played an awesome game,” said McDonagh. “He played like his old self.”