Kapanen scores twice; Pens welcome back fans with 5-2 win

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Pittsburgh Penguins' Mike Matheson (5) tries to control the puck as Philadelphia Flyers' Travis Konecny (11) and Connor Bunnaman (82) pursue during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, March 2, 2021, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

PITTSBURGH – The arena wasn't completely full for Pittsburgh's game against visiting Philadelphia, yet it felt that way to Penguins forward Kasperi Kapanen.

Kapanen scored two goals and the Penguins defeated the Flyers 5-2 on Tuesday night.

The Penguins won in front of their fans for the first time in almost a year, as state coronavirus restrictions were eased at the beginning of the month and spectators were allowed into the building. Penguins’ players raised their sticks and saluted the fans in attendance following the win.

“It was unbelievable,” Kapanen said. “It’s been a while since we played in front of fans. Even though there were only 2,800, it felt like there was 20,000. It feels like things are kind of going back to normal, so it was fun to see.”

Bryan Rust scored his seventh, and Cody Ceci and Mike Matheson added goals for Pittsburgh, which has won five of its last seven. Ceci’s goal came just 1:08 after Philadelphia’s Joel Farabee’s second goal made it a 3-2 game. Tristan Jarry stopped 40 shots.

The Penguins, who are tied for the most home wins since the beginning of the 2019-20 season, rebounded from one of their worst performances of the season, a shutout loss to the New York Islanders on Sunday.

Farabee scored twice for the Flyers, who had a three-game winning streak halted. Carter Hart made 22 saves for the Flyers.

“I thought mentally we were there,” Farabee said. “I just think the execution was a bit off all over the ice, so we’ve got to regroup.”