PITTSBURGH (AP) – Kasperi Kapanen scored two goals and the Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 5-2 on Tuesday night.
The Penguins won in front of their fans for the first time in nearly a year when state coronavirus restrictions were eased earlier this month and viewers were allowed to enter the building. The penguins’ players raised their sticks and greeted the fans present after the victory.
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Bryan Rust scored his seventh goal and Cody Ceci and Mike Matheson added goals for Pittsburgh, who have won five of their last seven. Ceci’s goal came just 1:08 after the second goal by Joel Farabee of Philadelphia was a 3-2 game. Tristan Jarry stopped 40 shots.
The Penguins, which have recorded the most home wins since the start of the 2019-20 season, bounced back from one of their worst performances of the season, a loss to the New York Islanders on Sunday.
Farabee scored twice for the Flyers, where a winning streak was stopped in three games. Carter Hart made 22 saves for the Flyers.
After a goalless first period, Farabee and Kapanen drew a 1:07 gap to open the second period. Farabee finished a give-and-go from Sean Couturier after selling a penguin at Center Ice. Kapanen linked the game to an unassisted runaway.
Couturier scored a career-high seven-point streak with his support for Farabee’s goal.
Kapanen scored his second goal of the game in power play at 8:41 am and Rust gave Pittsburgh a 3-1 lead at 10:45 am. Rust finished Kris Letang’s point shot from the top of the fold.
PENS WELCOME BACK FANS
The penguins received approval from Governor Tom Wolf and the state health department to open the PPG Paints Arena Tuesday with a capacity of 15%, or 2,800 fans. The Flyers will welcome the fans back to the Wells Fargo Center on Sunday against Washington.
Tuesday’s game was the first at the PPG Paints Arena with fans since the Penguins hosted the Carolina Hurricanes on March 8, 2020. The fans sat in no more than four bags spread across the lower bowl and half of the upper part of the arena.
The early-arriving crowd gave Evgeni Malkin an ovation when he last stepped off the ice during the pre-game warm-up, taunting cross-state rivals Flyers before dropping the puck.
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Dizzy fans gave their team a standing ovation as they grabbed the ice cream, and a “Let’s go Pens” shout broke out immediately after the opening game.
WHERE’S THAT D?
Philadelphia entered the game on Tuesday after sustaining sustained failures at Buffalo, but a series of defensive rounds helped Pittsburgh gain control in the second period.
The Penguins scored three goals, leaving the Flyers 13-3 to begin the second period. Shayne Gostisbehere’s turnover on the Pittsburgh blue line resulted in Kapanen’s runaway goal which tied the game and ended the Flyers’ shutout streak 160-11.
Kapanen pushed the puck past a Hart after a short pass sequence with Rust and Jake Guentzel to give Pittsburgh a 2-1 lead. Rust and Güntzel were in the lead, behind three Flyers defenders on Pittsburgh’s third goal.
CROSBY ON COVID-19 LIST
Penguin captain Sidney Crosby missed the game on Tuesday after being put on the COVID-19 protocol list. The penguins’ assistant, Todd Reirden, was also unavailable due to coronavirus-related precautions.
Crosby’s 107 points against Philadelphia is more than any other active player and the fourth ever against the Flyers. In his last 13 games against the Flyers, Crosby has nine goals and 23 points.
The penguins and aviators play again on Thursday and Saturday as part of a current five-game homestand for Pittsburgh. It is the first time in franchise history that the Flyers have played against the same opponent in three consecutive games.
Philadelphia will play 17 games over 31 days this month. Pittsburgh will play 12 of 16 home games in March, making the second most home games in a calendar month in NHL history.
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