NEW YORK -- The New York Rangers considered their showdown with the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday night a measuring-stick game. After drubbing the top team in the Eastern Conference at Madison Square Garden, the Rangers feel pretty good about where they stand.
Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist made 28 saves as the Rangers cruised to a 5-1 victory, their fourth win in five games after opening the season with just three wins in 10 games.
Asked whether this was a measuring-stick game for the team, Rangers right wing Ryan Callahan said, "You could call it that. Every time you play one of the top teams in the league, you want to see how you measure up against them. We've been up and down a little bit in the early parts of the season. I think it gives us confidence that we've got a good group in here and that if we work hard and stick to our game plan, we can play with anybody."
Lundqvist said, "It was important for us to step up and play one of the best teams in the league. It was a great test for us. We did so many good things."
Lundqvist's play over the first 10 minutes was a big reason the Rangers had a chance to win. He made two tough saves on Penguins center Sidney Crosby -- one on the game's first shift and another with Crosby on the doorstep during a power play -- as the Rangers were outshot 8-2 in the early going.
The Rangers made the most of Lundqvist's sharp play by scoring two goals over the final 1:52 of the first period to take a 2-0 lead into the intermission.
Defenseman Ryan McDonagh was the beneficiary of some great work by center Brian Boyle behind the net, as he finished a pass from Boyle to make it 1-0 at 18:08.
Center Derek Stepan capitalized on a neutral-zone turnover by snapping home a wrist shot off a great aerial pass from left wing Mats Zuccarello to make it 2-0 just 1:05 later.
"He made a ton of those tonight," McDonagh said of Lundqvist's game-changing saves. "He really helped us stay in the game and get our legs under us in the early going, especially."
Crosby lamented his missed chances but felt the Penguins had enough opportunities to get back in the game after it was 2-0.
"We generated some good chances, especially early, but there's no guarantees though," Crosby said. "I think sometimes you carry the play and end up without the lead and you still have to find ways to get back into it. But unfortunately we didn't. We made a number of mistakes that hurt us."
Boyle scored his first goal of the season midway through the second period, beating Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury with a wrist shot to the stick side to make it 3-0.
Penguins defenseman Kris Letang answered with his third of the season 1:24 later, but Callahan restored the three-goal lead 1:08 after that with his fourth of the season, on a deflection goal.
The Penguins' only goal came on the power play. They were just 1-for-6 with the man advantage despite entering the game with a 21.2 percent success rate with the opposition shorthanded.
The loss snapped the Penguins' four-game winning streak and left coach Dan Bylsma unhappy with his team's effort.
"I think after the first 10 minutes there were several turnovers in the neutral zone that led right to their opportunities to score, and they got two on us," Bylsma said. "We virtually gave them opportunities with how we managed the puck, how we executed. Our power play had opportunities and we weren't able to execute. We got sloppy with the puck."
Center Derick Brassard capped the scoring when he made it 5-1 at 9:57 of the third period. Eleven Rangers registered at least one point in the game, and every player was a plus except left wings J.T. Miller and Taylor Pyatt, who finished the game with even ratings.
"Everyone contributed right through the lineup," Callahan said. "That's what you need when you're playing one of the top teams in the league. Our penalty kill was a big part of it. They have a strong power play. It's a win we can build on."
NOTES: Penguins LW James Neal, who has been out with an upper-body injury since Oct. 3, skated Wednesday morning. There is no timetable for his return. ... RW Beau Bennett (lower body) also practiced with the Penguins and could return this weekend. ... Rangers LW Rick Nash (concussion) missed his 12th consecutive game and there continues to be no timetable for his return. ... Rangers C Dominic Moore (oblique) took part in the team's optional morning skate and was unsure whether he would travel with the team for a road game against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday.