Tuesday night had many reasons for the Pittsburgh Penguins to celebrate. They beat the Philadelphia Flyers for the first time this season, 5-2, but perhaps most significantly, the Penguins welcomed 2800 fans into PPG Paints Arena.
After the game, the team tweeted a picture of the players raising their sticks, thanking the fans for their support.
We salute you, fans.
Thanks for always supporting us. pic.twitter.com/oxGIvqRVCH
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) March 3, 2021
The Pittsburgh Penguins do not traditionally have a postgame celebration or fans salute, like the Carolina Hurricanes or New York Rangers, respectively. That made the Penguins salute more special.
“It creates that environment that we’re all longing for. Our players were fired up for it,” Mike Sullivan said. “They got some juice from the crowd. We are so appreciative of the support we get… It makes the experience so much better.”
On Monday, Gov. Tom Wolf lifted statewide restrictions, which meant the team could have 15% capacity for their games. It was the Penguins’ 610th straight sellout.
The Penguins treated the fans to quite a show with one of their best performances of the season. Their three-goal second provided the offense they needed.
Forward Kasperi Kapanen had two goals in that period and would’ve had a hat trick if not for goaltender Carter Hart. They were his fourth and fifth goals of the season, respectively. He also got his point total up to 12 in 18 games.
Kapanen then talked about the fans after the game and said:
“It felt like 20,000, to be honest. It was amazing to have fans back. It’s the little things and getting that energy. It was huge for us today.”
Goaltender Tristan Jarry was also tested on numerous occasions but stood tall. He had 40 saves on 42 shots, which was good for a .952 save percentage. That led to the fans in the building chanting, “Jarry, Jarry” throughout the contest.
They also had to kill two potentially game-changing penalties in the second period and one more in the third. The penalty kill was a perfect five-for-five, a rare feat for the 29th ranked PK in the league. It was only the 6th game this season in which the Penguins did not allow a power-play goal.
Defenseman Cody Ceci also joined in on the fun in the third period as he got his second goal of the season. That got the lead to 4-2 and helped push the Penguins to 8-1 on home ice this season.