PHILADELPHIA — Owen Tippett had his first career hat trick, Carter Hart made 34 saves and the Flyers defeated the Buffalo Sabres 5-2 on Friday night.
James van Riemsdyk and Joel Farabee also scored, and Kevin Hayes and Tony DeAngelo each had two assists for Philadelphia. The Flyers snapped a four-game skid while winning for just the fourth time in 14 games since the All-Star break.
“It’s pretty cool,” Tippett said. “It’s nice to get rewarded.”
Tippett, a promising 24-year-old acquired last season at the trade deadline from Florida for Claude Giroux, reached 21 goals on the season.
“He steps on the ice, he’s dangerous,” Flyers coach John Tortorella said. “We knew he was a good player. I think he thinks he’s a good player. I think he has a lot to learn still, but he’s made tremendous strides.”
Victor Olofsson scored both goals for the Sabres, who lost for the eighth time in 11 games to further hurt their playoff chances. Buffalo entered six points back of a wild-card spot and needed to jump three teams.
“We gotta get hot, we gotta get really hot,” Sabres captain Kyle Okposo said. “We gotta go on a run.”
The Flyers began play with the fifth-fewest points in the NHL, and losing only helps their lottery chances in the Connor Bedard sweepstakes. Bedard is considered to be a lock for the No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming draft, and Philadelphia certainly could use his talents in its rebuilding process.
But first-year coach Tortorella also acknowledged prior to Friday’s game that winning games – even if occasionally – also is an important part of development.
The Flyers sure didn’t look like also-rans against slumping Buffalo.
Tippett put Philadelphia ahead 1-0 with 4:50 left in the first on the power play with a rocket of a wrist shot high into the right corner past goalie Craig Anderson’s glove.
He had the middle tally of Philadelphia’s impressive, three-goal second period on a one-timer just inside the right post after a stellar cross-ice pass from Hayes.
And Tippett converted a breakaway 5:33 into the third period on a beautiful deke and then backhander after being set up with DeAngelo’s long pass from Philadelphia’s goal line.
“Too big, too strong, great shot, good finisher,” DeAngelo said of Tippett. “It’s good to see somebody taking a step like that and just keep running with it.”
Flyers fans, who haven’t had much to cheer about this season, littered the ice with hats, including many green top hats on St. Patrick’s Day.
Olofsson netted his second with 0.4 seconds remaining on the power play.
“Just a tough second (period) tonight,” Okposo said. “It’s just about playing your game and sticking to your game plan. It seemed like we cracked.”
SABRES GM WELCOMES GOALIE
Buffalo general manager Kevyn Adams is excited to have goalie Devon Levi join the club after signing the 21-year-old to a three-year entry level contract on Friday.
“We just thought for his development, where we are right now, this was a critical time for him to learn and grow with us,” Adams said prior to Friday night’s game against Philadelphia. “And that’s he’s coming right in.”
Levi recently completed his junior season at Northeastern, leading Hockey East goalies with 14 wins, six shutouts, a 1.81 goals-against average and a .947 save percentage.
“We first got to get him up to speed and get him around the guys, get him comfortable,” Adams said. “You want to set players up for success. You want to put them in a situation that you believe they can thrive. We’re open to it and we’ll go day by day and once we feel that he’s comfortable and where he needs to be, then we’ll see where we’re at.”
NOTES >> Hayes, Philadelphia’s All-Star representative, moved within three points of Travis Konecny’s team lead of 54 points. … Konecny (upper body) missed his 10th straight. … Philadelphia blanked the Sabres 4-0 on Jan. 9 in Buffalo. … The Flyers improved to 13-16-4 at home, while Buffalo dropped to 20-11-3 on the road.
Sabres: Host Boston on Sunday afternoon.
Flyers: Host Carolina on Saturday night.
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