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5 Takeaways: Owen Tippett’s Hatty Leads Flyers Past Sabres

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Tyson Foerster, Joel Farabee, Philadelphia Flyers
Tyson Foerster (left) and Joel Farabee celebrate the latter's goal. Foerster collected his first NHL point. Photo: AP.

Fans heaved their hats, many with a St. Patrick’s Day theme, onto the ice with 14:27 left in the third period Friday at the electric Wells Fargo Center.

Right winger Owen Tippett gave them reason to celebrate the holiday.

Tippett’s first career hat trick carried the Philadelphia Flyers to a 5-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres, damaging their playoff drive.

Acquired in last year’s Claude Giroux trade, Tippett scored his 19th, 20th and 21st goals in his breakout season. The last one was scored on a breakaway.

Using his speed and acceleration, the 24-year-old Tippett had two breakaways on the night, and seemed to have a Grade A scoring chance every time he was on the ice. He finished with nine shot attempts, including seven on goal.

“He’s getting that confidence, and you can just see how his game has taken off,” said defenseman Tony DeAngelo, whose pass sent Tippett on a breakaway that produced his third goal of the game. “I’ll tell you what, this guy is going to be here for a long time. He’s playing great, and he keeps getting better and better. You can’t defend him with his speed.”

Kevin Hayes and DeAngelo each contributed a pair of assists as the Flyers ended a four-game losing streak and registered their first win under interim GM Danny Briere.

The Flyers (25-32-11) scored more than two goals in back-to-back games for the first time since Jan. 22-24.

Buffalo (33-29-6) entered the night six points behind the Islanders for the final wild-card spot, and the Sabres had three games in hand.

But losing to a team that had lost 12 of its last 14 didn’t help, and they are a longshot to make the playoffs for the first time since 2011.

Here are five quick observations:

1. What is it about the Sabres that brings out the best in the Flyers?

The Flyers are 2-0 against Buffalo this season and have outscored the Sabres, 9-2. The Sabres entered the game as the NHL’s third-highest scoring team.

“I feel like we have a good matchup against them,” left winger Joel Farabee said. “I feel like we have that physicality that they kind of lack.”

Tippett scored on a one-time scorcher from the left circle — Hayes set it up — to give the Flyers a 3-0 lead with 6:46 left in the second. About five minutes later, James van Riemsdyk (10th) scored from the doorstep to make it 4-0.

“Getting traded here last year gave me an opportunity and a fresh start,” Tippett said. “It’s been great so far.”

2. Same theme: Joel Farabee wishes the Flyers played Buffalo more often.

If the Flyers could add Buffalo to the schedule more often, Farabee would not be having such a disappointing season.

With 16:07 to go in the second, the 23-year-old left winger snapped a 26-game goal-less streak as he picked up a loose puck and scored from out front. It was his first goal since Jan. 9 — against the same Sabres — and his 10th of the season.

Tyson Foerster, playing in his fourth NHL game, collected an assist on the play and collected his first NHL point.

“I feel like my game is getting better every game,” Foerster said.

 

3. The Flyers’ power play had a new look, and it worked in the first period.

Mired in a 3-for-40 slump on the power play, the Philadelphia Flyers worked behind the goal line on their first power play and it produced the game’s initial goal. (It was the Flyers’ only PP of the night.)

Cam York fed the 6-foot-1, 207-pound Tippett, who scored from the right circle, beating 41-year-old Craig Anderson with a high blast to the short side. Tony DeAngelo started the play behind the goal line, and the puck came out to York at the high slot. He found Tippett.

“Catesy made a great job screening him,” Tippett said, referring to Noah Cates, “so on those, you’re just trying to find a hole and I’m not trying to overpower it.”

Earlier in the period, Anderson made quality stops on Hayes (three-on-one chance) and Tippett (backhander on a breakaway).

4. Carter Hart, who was ill and missed the last game, was sharp.

Hart stopped 34 of 36 shots and was in total control throughout the game. He was screened on Buffalo’s first goal, a power-play tally in the third. The Sabres added another power-play goal just four-tenths of a second before the final buzzer. Victor Olofsson had both goals.

5. The Flyers’ offense had its first breakout game in two months.

The five goals matched the Flyers’ highest output since a 5-2 win over Anaheim on Jan. 17.

Before Friday, the Flyers had managed a total of 15 goals in their last nine games. They had been averaging 2.05 goals in their previous 20 games.

Yeah, they needed this.

Breakaways

Van Riemsdyk’s goal was his first in the last 12 games. … Buffalo had a 19-4 shots domination in the third and finished with a 36-22 advantage. … Nick Seeler (assist, plus-1) blocked four shots. … Ivan Provorov was plus-3 and had an assist … Nick Deslauriers had six hits. … Sam Ersson blanked Buffalo, 4-0, in the teams’ Jan. 9 meeting. …The Flyers host powerful Carolina (44-15-8) on Saturday at 5 p.m. The Hurricanes lost in Toronto on Friday night, 5-2.

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