Owen Tippett made his first career NHL hat-trick and the Flyers rolled the Sabers, 5-2, Friday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
The 24-year-old winger made it rain after scoring on a nasty breakaway move in the third period.
“When I got that break, I tried to stay calm,” Tippett said. “It was pretty cool.”
Needing a morale-boosting win, John Tortorella’s team emphatically succeeded in getting one, improving to 1-1-0 on the season’s seven-game home standings.
Joel Farabee and James van Riemsdyk each scored their 10th goal of the season.
The marker for Farabee snapped his 26-game slump without a goal. Relief for the 23-year-old winger.
Ten different Flyers registered a run. Kevin Hayes and Tony DeAngelo each provided two assists. Tyson Foerster recorded his first career NHL point with a helper.
“I’m happy they got a result here,” said Tortorella. “A lot of people contributed.”
With the win, the Flyers (25-32-11) tied their winning and point totals from last season’s long and terrible 25-46-11 campaign. Tortorella’s club has 14 games left in the season.
The Flyers are 2-0-0 to the Sabers (33-29-6) this season and have outscored them 9-2. The clubs meet for the final time at the Wells Fargo Center in just over two weeks.
• Tippett started this season without a multi-goal game in his NHL career.
He has three multi-goal games this season and 21 total marks this season.
“Who knows what happens to some of the older guys here,” DeAngelo said with a smile, “but I’ll tell you what, this guy is going to be here for a long time.”
Tippett’s power 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 can see it in his skates. I’ve never seen anyone make a breakaway from the D-zone. It’s actually incredible, honestly, just the way he moves there. He has that confidence going, he’s a pretty tough player to stop.”
Tippett may have been the Flyers’ biggest asset in 2022-23. He came to the Flyers from the Panthers in the Claude Giroux trade last March and looks like a legit piece for the future.
“I don’t think players care who they’re traded for or anything,” Tortorella said. “I just think he’s growing. He’s getting more opportunities here. Florida was pretty full of attacking people when he was there. You just never know when there’s an opportunity.”
“I just think he’s gotten more confident. It’s so important to 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 on the tie.
“I like the goals, but I think he added more power to his game,” said Tortorella. “The last game he made it to the net two or three times. That’s what I want him to keep working on; not just rely on the shot he’s got. Like that power play goal, that’s just a great shot. I wants the other part of the game too, because I think he can do it.”
• The Flyers are renovating and purely focused on development for next season. But some wins don’t hurt in the process.
They had lost 16 of their previous 20 games (4-12-4), a period in which they scored just 2.05 goals per game.
So while this win didn’t help their NHL lottery chances, it’s good for the confidence of a team trying to build something.
Wins now can help for the future. And there haven’t exactly been many positives around the Flyers in recent weeks.
“We have to try to get everything right – keep our discipline and work hard and try to find a way to win,” Tortorella said on Friday morning. “When you’re developing people and you’re trying to find a way to teach them to be pros, winning is important. That’s why they put on the uniform. So it was very frustrating for everyone.”
The Flyers had not scored more than five goals since January 17.
• Carter Hart got a lot of walking assistance and finished with 36 saves on his return from the flu.
The second goal he allowed came with 0.4 seconds left and the Sabers on a power play.
Both of Victor Olofsson’s goals for Buffalo favored the man.
The Sabers scored 3.66 goals per game, the third most in the NHL. But they also came in with 3.61.
The Flyers have held Buffalo star Tage Thompson scoreless in two games. 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 tendency to get injured.
As the Flyers continue to evaluate who will be part of the future, Allison has a good chance of finishing this season on a high note.
If he plays well through the finish line, he’ll have a solid sample size of the bottom six effectiveness heading into an offseason fraught with uncertainty for the Flyers.
• Travis Konecny performed Friday morning as he recovered from an upper body injury. Here’s the latest on him and Sean Couturier.
• The Flyers are right back at it on Saturday as 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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