Everything was hanging over the heads of the Rangers — their expectations, their history, their penchant for pulling on heartstrings and playing the tightest of games in the most dire situations. It was all poised to drop and smash their season as if it never began.

But the team that came out last night at the Verizon Center was having none of that, no sir, not with their goalie, not with their grind, not with their new-found persona of team unflappable. With Henrik Lundqvist notching his second straight shutout, the Rangers beat the Capitals 5-0 in Game 7 of this first-round series, a win that exorcised the franchise demon of never having won a Game 7 on the road and one that advanced the Blueshirts to a second-round matchup against the Bruins starting Thursday night in Boston.

“It feels great,” said Lundqvist, who finished with 35 saves, 62 over the two geams when the fifth-highest scoring team in the league during the regular season could put nothing by him at all. “Just a fun way to turn around and back it up. It’s a lot of hard work here but it paid off.”

Somehow, the team in front of Lundqvist played as if they were filled with confidence pulled from some hidden well deep within their psyches, someplace that was filled long before this season of middling results and tepid enthusiasm.

“We’ve believed in our club all year,” said Michael Del Zotto, the defenseman who added a big goal to make it 3-0 with 5:34 gone by in the second period, just 2:10 after Taylor Pyatt batted one home to get a desperate 2-0 lead. “It wasn’t the smoothest year for us, but we’ve had a lot of fun working hard for each other and we’ve never given up. With the lockout, we knew from day one it was going to be a different year.”

What hasn’t changed is Lundqvist, the reigning Vezina Trophy winner from his team’s run to the Eastern Conference finals last season and finalist for the award again this year. He set the tone midway through the first period when he stoned Mike Green on a breakaway, the Rangers’ rush the other way resulting in Arron Asham lifting a slap shot over Braden Holtby’s glove for a 1-0 lead.