Owen Tippett put up his first career NHL hat trick and the Flyers rolled the Sabres, 5-2, Friday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
The 24-year-old winger made the hats rain down after scoring on a filthy breakaway move in the third period.
“When I got that break, I tried to stay calm,” Tippett said. “It was pretty cool.”
John Tortorella’s team needed a morale-boosting win and was able to get one emphatically, improving to 1-1-0 on its season-long seven-game homestand.
Joel Farabee and James van Riemsdyk each netted their 10th goal of the season.
The marker for Farabee snapped his slump of 26 straight games without a goal. Sigh of relief for the 23-year-old winger.
Ten different Flyers registered a point. Kevin Hayes and Tony DeAngelo tallied two assists apiece. Tyson Foerster recorded his first career NHL point with a helper.
“I’m happy that they get a result here,” Tortorella said. “A lot of people contributed.”
With the victory, the Flyers (25-32-11) matched their win and point totals from last season’s long and dreadful 25-46-11 campaign. Tortorella’s club has 14 games remaining on the season.
The Flyers are 2-0-0 against the Sabres (33-29-6) this season and have outscored them 9-2. The clubs meet a final time in a little over two weeks back at the Wells Fargo Center.
• Tippett entered this season without a multi-goal game in his NHL career.
He has three multi-goal games this season and 21 markers overall on the season.
“Who knows what happens with some of the older guys here,” DeAngelo said with a smile, “but I’ll tell you what, this guy’s going to be here for a long time.”
Tippett’s strength and speed make for an impressive mix.
“I go on Instagram I feel like every summer and I see him doing jumps or something, it’s kind of insane,” Farabee said with a laugh. “He’s so explosive. You see it in his skating. I’ve never seen a guy get breakaways from the D-zone. It’s kind of incredible, honestly, just the way he moves out there. If he keeps it up, keeps getting that confidence going, he’s a pretty tough player to stop.”
Tippett has arguably been the Flyers’ biggest positive in 2022-23. He came to the Flyers last March from the Panthers in the Claude Giroux trade and is looking like a legit piece to the future.
“I don’t think players care who they were traded for or whatever,” Tortorella said. “I just think he’s growing. He’s getting more of an opportunity here. Florida was pretty loaded with some offensive people when he was there. You just never know when there’s opportunity.
“I just think he has gained confidence. It’s so important for an athlete, in any sport, how they feel about themselves. I think he feels pretty good.”
On Friday night, Tippett scored one on the power play and two at even strength.
“I like the goals, but I think he has added more power to his game,” Tortorella said. “The last game, he brings it to the net two or three times. That’s the thing that I want him to continue to work on; not just rely on the shot that he has. Like, that power play goal, that’s just a great shot. I want the other part of the game, too, because I think he’s able to do it.”
• The Flyers are rebuilding and purely focused on development for next season. But some victories don’t hurt in the process.
They had lost 16 of their previous 20 games (4-12-4), a stretch in which they scored just 2.05 goals per game.
So while this win didn’t help their NHL draft lottery odds, it’s good for the confidence of a team trying to build something.
Victories now can help for the future. And there hasn’t exactly been a ton of positives around the Flyers the last couple of weeks.
“We’ve got to try to get everything in order — our discipline and continue to work hard and try to find a way to win,” Tortorella said Friday morning. “When you’re developing people and you’re trying to find a way to teach them how to be pros, winning is important. That’s why they put the uniform on. So it’s been very frustrating for everybody.”
The Flyers hadn’t scored five or more goals since Jan. 17.
• Carter Hart got plenty of run support and finished with 36 saves in his return from the flu.
The second goal he allowed came with 0.4 seconds left in the action and the Sabres on a power play.
Both of Victor Olofsson’s goals for Buffalo were on the man advantage.
The Sabres came in scoring 3.66 goals per game, third most in the NHL. But they also came in allowing 3.61.
The Flyers have held Buffalo star Tage Thompson scoreless in two meetings. The 6-foot-6 winger has 42 goals and 45 assists in 68 games this season.
Craig Anderson, the Sabres’ 41-year-old veteran netminder, stopped 17 of the Flyers’ 22 shots.
• Wade Allison returned to the lineup after missing the last three games with an undisclosed injury.
Tortorella was very honest about the 25-year-old winger’s propensity to get hurt.
As the Flyers further evaluate who’s going to be a part of the future, Allison has a good opportunity to close this season on a high note.
If he plays well through the finish line, he’ll have a solid sample size of bottom-six effectiveness heading into an offseason full of uncertainty for the Flyers.
• Travis Konecny pushed it Friday morning in his recovery from an upper-body injury. Here’s the latest on him and Sean Couturier.
• The Flyers are right back at it Saturday when they host the Metropolitan Division-leading Hurricanes (5 p.m. ET/ESPN+, Hulu).
Tortorella’s club is 2-10-0 in the second game of back-to-back sets.
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