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Flyers 5, Sabres 2: Owen Tippett goes off to log first NHL hat trick

Owen Tippett is looking like one heck of a player, folks.

Buffalo Sabres v Philadelphia Flyers Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Following a rough 1-0 shutout loss to the Carolina Hurricanes last week, Philadelphia Flyers head coach John Tortorella wasn’t exactly overjoyed about his team’s capabilities in the offensive zone.

“I don’t know what else to tell you. We don’t make enough plays. We haven’t made enough plays. And we probably won’t the rest of the year,” said Tortorella. “So we have to play above it, wait for our opportunities, hopefully get some good forechecking and hopefully bang some in.”

Well, on St. Patrick’s Day against the Buffalo Sabres, the offense finally showed some life.

The Flyers took down the Sabres 5-2 at Wells Fargo Center Friday night, and for the first time in nearly a month, they managed to light the lamp more than three times in a single game.

The Flyers should take on the Sabres more often. They’re two-for-two against the Sabres this season, outscoring them 9-2 in those contests.

It should come as no surprise that Owen Tippett was the player to step up offensively against Buffalo. The 24-year-old has turned out to be a dynamic presence for the Flyers since being acquired from the Florida Panthers in last year’s Claude Giroux trade, and Friday night, he put together the best performance of his career.

Tippett scored his first NHL hat trick. And, frankly, he probably could have logged one or two more.

His first goal broke the ice late in the opening period when he beat Sabres netminder Craig Anderson with a laser on the power play. In the middle frame, he scored his 20th marker of the season with a one-timed blast off a pretty spin-o-rama feed from Kevin Hayes. Finally, in the third period, Tippett beat Anderson with a sick move on the breakaway that sparked the rainstorm of hats.

“It’s pretty cool,” said Tippett. “Obviously some of the guys were kind of making jokes about it. When I got that break I tried to stay calm, but that was pretty cool.”

Tippett’s three goals were just the start. He generated numerous high-danger scoring chances on the night, including another breakaway in the first period that was only made possible thanks to a point shot he blocked himself. Unfortunately, he was at the end of his shift and didn’t have enough gas to get a good shot off.

With several of the Flyers’ top players out of commission due to various ailments, someone had to up their game and generate consistent offense. So far, Tippett hasn’t blinked.

“He steps on the ice, he’s dangerous,” said Tortorella. “I think he thinks he’s a good player. I was just telling the coaches. We know he’s a good player. More importantly, I think he thinks he’s a good player. And he’s kind of letting it go.”

While Tippett was busy putting together the game of his life, Joel Farabee had a pretty significant performance as well. The 23-year-old, in a season that was derailed from the start thanks to offseason disc replacement surgery, was riding a 26-game goal drought going into the night. But for the first time since January 9 — a game that, ironically, was also against the Sabres — Farabee found the back of the net. And, to boot, Tyson Foerster logged his first NHL point on the tally.

It’s safe to say Farabee can probably breathe a big sigh of relief now as he looks to finish the season strong.

“He’s played better,” said Tortorella. “He’s had more opportunities. He’s worked at his game. He’s been involved for quite a while now for a number of games, more involved in the offense. So, I’m glad he scored.”

At this point, most fans of the Orange & Black are probably hoping for losses as they closely monitor the league standings ahead of the draft lottery on May 8. But while improved lottery odds are key as the Flyers begin their rebuild, outings like this are still very much a welcome sight — especially when one of the team’s young players shows out with a hat trick.

This team may not always be fun to watch these days, but they sure were in this tilt.

“I don’t think we’ve played poorly. I think the effort’s been there, and you just don’t get the result,” said Tortorella.

“No matter where we are, no matter how much it doesn’t matter in the standings as far as the real stuff, playoffs, they want to win, so I’m happy that they get a result here. A lot of people contributed.”

The Flyers will be right back at the rink Saturday to complete their back-to-back set with an evening contest against the Hurricanes. They’ll then have a two-day break before taking on the Panthers Tuesday to continue the long homestand.