PITTSBURGH -- Henrik Lundqvist turned away 35 shots and Brad Richards scored the game-winning goal on a power play as the New York Rangers beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-1 on Tuesday night in the decisive Game 7 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series.

The Rangers rallied from 3-1 series deficit to advance to the Eastern Conference final to meet either the Boston Bruins or Montreal Canadiens. It was first time in 17 tries that New York came back in a series after trailing 3-1.

The Rangers will be making their second appearance in the conference finals in three years. They lost to the New Jersey Devils in 2011-12 in six games.

"What a feeling," Lundqvist, the Rangers' goaltender, said with a smile. "We battled so hard as a team the last three games. After losing that fourth game it was tough. When you face a challenge like that it's about how you answer and we just did it the right way. We came together as a group and played a really smart game."

Lundqvist showed his Game 7 magic again, raising his career record to 5-1 in those situations. He stopped a combined 102 of 105 shots in winning the final three games of the series.

"I thought in the first two periods, he played a real strong game when they had more shots," New York coach Alain Vigneault said. "Then (the Penguins) took their game to another level in the third period and our goaltender took his game to another level and was able to stop a barrage of good opportunities."

Lundqvist made 13 saves in the third period after stopping 10 shots in the first and 12 in the second.

"He was the difference in the game, he made a lot of glove saves in the third period every time we tried to tie it," Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma said. "Lundqvist was great but our problem was we didn't get enough people to cage to put more pressure on him."

The Penguins fell to 2-7 in their last nine Games 7s at home, and the loss figures to only fuel speculation that Bylsma will be fired after getting knocked out in the Eastern Conference finals by the Boston Bruins last season.

The Penguins went 1-8 at home under Bylsma when they have had a chance to win the series and were eliminated by a lower seed in each of the last five postseasons since winning the Stanley Cup in his first season in 2008-09.

Richards, 7-0 in Game 7s in his career, put the Rangers ahead for good, 2-1, when he scored a power-play goal at 7:56 on the second period after taking a pass from the right side from winger Martin St. Louis with Penguins defenseman Matt Niskanen off for tripping.

It was the fourth goal of the playoffs for Richards, who was teammates with St. Louis in 2003-04 when they helped the Tampa Bay Lightning win their lone Stanley Cup.

St. Louis became a rallying point for the Rangers when they began their series comeback last Friday in Game 5, one day after St. Louis' mother died.

After leading the NHL in scoring during the regular season, Penguins center Sidney Crosby had a miserable playoff run. He scored only one goal in 13 games, that coming in Game 3 against the Rangers, and three points in the series with New York.

"I'd love to tear it up every series but it's not always the case," Crosby said. "It doesn't make it any easier, I'll tell you that. It's tough losing as it is but when you're unable to contribute as much as you'd like, it's even tougher."

The Rangers opened the scoring at 5:25 of the first period on fourth-line left winger Dan Boyle's second goal. The team that scored the first goal won all seven games in the series.

Left winger Jussi Jokinen evened the score at 1 for the Penguins at 4:15 of the second period with his seventh.

"We were giving them too much space early in the series," Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh said. "We started playing more aggressive, showing more feistiness and I think that's what turned things around for us."

NOTES: Penguins RW Tanner Glass was in the lineup for the first time since Game 1 of the series, replacing RW Beau Bennett. ... Pittsburgh D Brooks Orpik missed his third consecutive game with what the team said was an undisclosed injury, though he was seen at the morning skate wearing a bulky brace on his right knee. ... New York did not hold a game-day skate, opting to extra rest before the series' decisive game.