Igor Shesterkin of the Rangers looks on during the second period against...

Igor Shesterkin of the Rangers looks on during the second period against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Madison Square Garden on Monday. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Jacob Trouba wasn’t looking to make any excuses. His turnover in the opening seconds of the game had led directly to the Rangers falling behind 18 seconds in, and the captain owned it.

“It’s a big mistake that cost us a big goal in the game, and that can’t happen,’’ Trouba said after the Rangers’ 5-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday night at Madison Square Garden. “It’s not anybody but me. So it’s something I’ve got to be better at starting the game.’’

Vincent Trocheck had won the opening faceoff against Sidney Crosby and the puck came back into the Rangers’ zone, where Trouba had possession of it on the game’s opening shift. He tried to pass to Trocheck but misfired and put it into the skates of Penguins forward Reilly Smith, who was able to control it and take it to the corner before sending a pass to Crosby. Igor Shesterkin saved Crosby’s shot, but Bryan Rust banged home the rebound, and the Rangers were chasing the game from then on.

“You don’t want to start the game with a goal against you in the first shift, but I think we’ve shown that we’re resilient enough to kind of put that aside and just kind of hit the reset button second shift,’’ Mika Zibanejad said. “It just wasn’t our best, and we know it.’’

Crosby’s deflection of Pierre-Olivier Joseph’s shot at 10:39 gave the Penguins a 2-0 lead going into the first intermission. They carried that lead into the third period, expanding it to 3-0 on Emil Bemstrom’s breakaway goal at 9:51, before Kaapo Kakko’s goal at 10:42 got the Rangers on the board.

Jack Roslovic’s goal at 16:53 got the Rangers within 3-2, and thinking they had a chance, before Rust and Crosby scored empty-netters to put the game away.

Alex Nedeljkovic had 28 saves for Pittsburgh. Shesterkin stopped 15 of the 18 shots he faced.

The loss snapped the Rangers’ winning streak at five games and dropped them to 50-21-4 (104 points), still good enough to hold a one-point lead over idle Dallas in the battle for first overall in the league. The Rangers own a three-point lead over second-place Carolina in the Metropolitan Division. Both teams have seven games left in the regular season.

Rangers coach Peter Laviolette acknowledged that Trouba’s opening-minute mistake was costly but reminded everyone that the defenseman was playing only his second game since coming back from a lower-body injury that caused him to miss 11 games.

“Listen, somebody comes back from injuries, it takes a minute,’’ Laviolette said. “It just takes a minute to get up to speed, to get going the way the game is being played, to get back to being yourself and feeling yourself out there . . . I have no doubt in my mind that when it comes time for the playoffs and we need warriors on the ice that he’ll be there in full force.’’

Trouba, who was minus-3 in the game and minus-2 in Saturday’s 8-5 win over Arizona, wouldn’t use his long layoff as an excuse for his struggles. He promised that he will learn from them and be better.

“I think the positive, I guess, for me, is it’s a lot of things that are easily fixable for myself that are kind of holding the team back since my coming back,’’ he said. “So I think [when] my game improves, this team’s gonna be in good shape.’’


n Blue lines

 Zibanejad appeared to score a power-play goal that would have cut the deficit to 2-1 at 3:09 of the second period, but the referees waved it off, ruling that Chris Kreider had interfered with Nedeljkovic . . . Before the game, Jonathan Quick was honored for becoming the winningest American-born goaltender in NHL history with his victory over Arizona on Saturday. Quick’s parents, wife and children joined him on the ice, where Trouba presented him a platinum stick in recognition of his 392nd victory . . . Laviolette stayed with the same lineup he used Saturday. Forward Matt Rempe was scratched for the third straight game and D Chad Ruhwedel was scratched for the second straight, meaning he missed a second opportunity to play against his old team, the Penguins. D Brandon Scanlin was the other scratch . . . D Erik Gustafsson, who missed his fourth game with an upper-body injury, took part in the morning skate while wearing a red no-contact jersey.

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