NEW YORK — The Penguins reached another milestone in the Mike Johnston Era: the blowout, never-had-a-chance loss.
There had been late leads blown versus Dallas and Detroit. Even one where they got down but eventually mounted some sort of fight, against Philadelphia.
But not until Tuesday at Madison Square Garden had the Penguins been as thoroughly manhandled as they were during a 5-0 loss to the New York Rangers, a team two days removed from falling to the hapless Oilers at home.
“We weren’t ready to compete,” captain Sidney Crosby said. “That’s really what it came down to.”
About the only piece of good news came when defenseman Kris Letang returned from a first-period injury 80 seconds into the second. Either that, or when the final horn sounded.
The loss is the first on the road for the Penguins, who dropped to 10-3-1 overall and 5-1-1 away from Consol Energy Center.
They trailed by three less than 15 minutes in and never recovered.
“It happens,” goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury said. “It’s not our first (lopsided loss), probably not our last.”
Derick Brassard’s wrist shot at 10 minutes, 49 seconds of the second period came on the power play and snapped the Penguins’ consecutive penalty kills streak at 39, the longest streak in franchise history.
Rick Nash added a short-handed goal in the third period for his NHL-best 12th of the season.
“They scored a lot,” Fleury said. “And that (stinks).”
The shutout is the third of the season for Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist (33 saves) and the 53rd of his career.
Beau Bennett returned from a knee injury, but the Penguins made sure he wasn’t solely to blame for their seven-game winning streak coming to a close. They were routinely beaten to pucks and forced Fleury to face shots from point-blank range.
“We got outworked,” Crosby said. “It’s not fun having to say that after games. You know you don’t want to be able to say that, but we got outplayed.”
Penguins defensemen Robert Bortuzzo and Christian Ehrhoff were on the ice for all three of the Rangers’ even-strength goals.
Mats Zuccarello, Martin St. Louis and Kevin Klein scored to stake the Rangers (7-6-2) to a 3-0 lead in the first period.
Letang was hurt at 11:45 of the opening period after hitting Rangers forward Kevin Hayes in the corner. He skated to the bench hunched over and holding his chest before returning.
Adding insult to injury — almost literally — former Penguin Tanner Glass yanked the Penguins’ best attempt at a goal off the goal line in the first.
The scoring onslaught soon followed, and the five goals the Penguins allowed equaled their total from the previous five games combined.
“It’s from the coaches to the players,” Johnston said. “We had to be a lot better prepared in the first 10 minutes than we were.”
The good news is the Penguins host the Rangers on Saturday.
“We can’t wait for that game,” forward Patric Hornqvist said. “We want to come out and be better than we were (Tuesday).”
Notes: Zach Sill was a healthy scratch. … Craig Adams played in his 302nd consecutive game, tying Jordan Staal for second most in team history. … The Penguins dropped to 3-1-0 on their five-game road trip that concludes Friday in Toronto.