Ryan Callahan smiled so wide, it looked like it was going to rip his face in two.

Under the bright lights of the Garden, the Rangers’ captain sparkled the brightest last night, scoring a shorthanded goal early in the second period that changed the momentum of the game and gave his team a much-needed 4-2 triumph over the Jets.

“It was a smile of relief,” said Callahan, who also had three assists and played 4:27 of his 23:45 on the penalty kill, perfect in going 5-for-5. “When you’re not contributing, it weighs on you. I look at myself as a guy who needs to put the puck in the net to get points.”

Callahan had not had a goal in eight games, and his team was coming off a 10-game stretch when it went 3-6-1, including two consecutive 3-0 shutouts coming into this matchup against the Southeast-leading Jets (18-17-2).

And it was Callahan who on Easter Sunday issued a statement addressing the tweet from former Blueshirt antagonist Sean Avery, the captain publicly supporting his coach, John Tortorella, and thus galvanizing his locker room.

Because make no mistake, as the 17-15-3 Rangers barely hold on to eighth place in the conference, this is Ryan Callahan’s locker room.

“It’s no surprise that he stepped up in a big way,” said Derek Stepan, who put a halt to the team’s scoreless streak at 128:06 by giving the Rangers a 1-0 lead just 19 seconds in. “That’s why he wears the ‘C’ on his chest. He just seems to get the job done when we need it most.”

Although Stepan gave the Rangers a quick lead, it was just as quickly given back with Nik Antropov scoring 56 seconds later, followed just over 11 minutes after that by Zach Bogosian giving Winnipeg a 2-1 advantage.

But then came Callahan’s remarkable shorthanded goal: streaking down the right side of a 2-on-1 with Norwegian sparkplug Mats Zuccarello ... toe-dragging around sprawled out defenseman Tobias Enstrom ... waiting out goaltender Ondrej Pavelec as he helplessly reached out ... and lifting a backhander up into the net to tie it 2-2, raising the sellout Garden crowd from its slumber to a high pitch that hasn’t been heard in weeks.