PITTSBURGH — In their first game without center Mika Zibanejad and after two straight defeats, including Sunday night’s shootout loss to Florida, the Rangers had plenty of excuses to mail it in Monday night.

After all, the Penguins came out hungry and rookie Jake Guentzel, playing on a line with stars Evgeny Malkin and Phil Kessel in his NHL debut, scored twice in the first period to send the crowd at PPG Paints Arena into a frenzy.

But the Rangers rebounded in the second period with three consecutive goals to erase the Penguins’ lead and Antti Raanta (24 saves) kept them in the game as the Blueshirts earned a 5-2 victory.

“We wanted to start the game way different,” said Raanta, who allowed Guentzel’s first goal at 1:02. “Soft goal, and they got the momentum straightaway. There was a still a lot of game left.

“I’ve been a goalie long enough to know that one goal, it’s not going to change your life, not change how you play hockey. You just try to concentrate on the next shot. I think it was from the red line, and after the second shot, I started to play more in the crease and didn’t go all over the place. Everybody played great after that. It’s a great example of how you never give up.”

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Raanta, who had been peppered, denied Conor Sheary’s try from in close with less than four minutes to go in the first period to prevent the Penguins from taking a three-goal lead. In the second period, he turned away Guentzel’s bid for a hat trick from between the hashmarks, alone in front.

That seemed to spark the Rangers, who beat Marc-Andre Fleury three times in the second.

Rick Nash scored his eighth goal when he followed his own shot and lifted a rebound past Fleury at 4:51. “We knew we had more to give, and that if we pop one, we’ll keep going, and that’s what happened,” Dan Girardi said. “We kind of fed off that, and a couple penalty kills.”

With the Rangers throwing shots from all angles at Fleury, Ryan McDonagh tossed a shot that Fleury bobbled. Michael Grabner pounced on it and flipped a high backhander in at 14:23. It was his 12th goal, tied for the league lead.

Then, with Brady Skjei in the box for a questionable interference call on Bryan Rust along the boards, Kevin Hayes’ shorthanded lead pass to J.T. Miller glanced off Miller and through Fleury to give the Rangers a 3-2 lead.

“I ran into Malkin a little bit,” Miller said. “I think it hit me in the butt. I thought it was Hayes’ goal. We came out with a little more assertiveness and aggression and after that, we kept the pace up in the third.”

With the Rangers leading 3-2, McDonagh’s shot from the right side glanced off Hayes’ skate at the crease with 7:14 left. Derek Stepan finished the rally with a long, rolling empty-netter goal with 1:23 left.

That completed a comeback in the teams’ first meeting since the defending Stanley Cup champions eliminated the Blueshirts in five games in the first round of the playoffs last spring.

A rematch is on tap quickly. The Penguins (11-5-3) visit the Rangers (14-5-1) at Madison Square Garden tomorrow night.

“What it boils down to is this was a real strong team effort,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. “We’re trying to play a fast-paced game and check quickly. It would have been easy for us on back-to-back nights to maybe not put out the way we’re expected to. But not this group. They buckled down and put their work boots on.”

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“I’ve been a goalie long enough to know that one goal, it’s not going to change your life, not change how you play hockey, you just try to concentrate on the next shot. I think it was from the red line, and after the second shot, I started to play more in the crease, and didn’t go all over the place. Everybody played great after that. It’s a great example of how you never give up.”

Raanta, who had been peppered, denied Conor Sheary’s try in close with less than four minutes to go in the first period to prevent a three-goal lead. In the second period, he turned away a hat-trick bid for Guentzel from between the hashmarks, alone in front.

That seemed to spark the Rangers, who beat Marc-Andre Fleury three times. Rick Nash scored his eighth goal when he followed his own shot and lifted a rebound past Fleury at 4:51.

“We knew we had more to give, and that if we pop one, we’ll keep going, and that’s what happened,” Dan Girardi said. “We kind of fed off that, and a couple penalty kills.”

With the Rangers throwing shots from all angles at Fleury, McDonagh tossed a shot that Fleury bobbled and Michael Grabner pounced on. He flipped a high backhander in at 14:23. It was Grabner’s 12th goal, tied for the league lead.

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Then, with Brady Skjei in the box for a questionable interference call on Bryan Rust along the boards, Hayes’ shorthanded lead pass to J.T. Miller glanced off Miller and through Fleury to give the Rangers a 3-2 lead.

“I ran into Malkin a little bit,” Miller said. “I think it hit me in the butt. I thought it was Hayes’ goal. We came out with a little more assertiveness and aggression and after that we kept the pace up in the third.”

After a miserable start, they had outshot the Penguins 15-9 in the period.

With 7:14 left and the Rangers leading 3-2, McDonagh’s shot from the right side glanced off Hayes’ skate at the crease, completing a comeback in the teams’ first meeting since the defending Stanley Cup champions eliminated the Blueshirts in five games in the first round of the playoffs last spring.

Derek Stepan finished the rally with a long, rolling empty-netter.

A rematch is on tap quickly. The Penguins (11-5-3) visit the Rangers (14-5-1) at Madison Square Garden tomorrow.

“What it boils down to is this was a real strong team effort,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. “We’re trying to play a fast-paced game and check quickly. It would have been easy for us on back-to-back nights to maybe not put out the way we’re expected to. But not this group. They buckled down and put their work boots on.”