Though his third goal of the night came on an empty-netter, there was nothing cheap about Robby Fabbri’s hat trick Wednesday night.
Every cap tossed onto the ice at Scottrade Center, Fabbri earned with grit and determination displayed throughout the game, a 6-3 Blues win over the Flyers.
After opening the season with a dozen scoreless games, Fabbri has shaken the sophomore slump; his 11 goals on the season rank third on the team, his 23 points rank second.
Quite a climb from where he started out.
“I couldn’t be more excited for the kid,” said the winning goaltender Carter Hutton. “He’s a hell of a player and the way he’s been playing lately, I don’t think he was happy with his start. He made that pretty open. He really refocused himself and he’s been absolutely lights out for us.”
Fabbri had an eye for nylon from the jump Wednesday. With the game tied 1-1 in the waning moments of the first period, Fabbri set up in the slot and waited for Colton Parayko’s pass from behind the red line–and he wasn't shy about what he wanted Parayko to do with the puck.
“He was calling,” Parayko said. “I took a quick look and saw him there. I knew I wasn't going to score from that angle, so I just tried to find him.”
The burly defenseman–whose assist on Fabbri’s goal ties him for second on the team with 16–gushed his excitement over his teammate’s accomplishment.
“It's amazing, a young kid like that,” Parayko said. “It's good to see a smile like that on his face that can't be removed. It's a hat trick, the first of his career. Obviously he'll never forget it. Super proud of him. Can't say enough good things about the kid.”
Fabbri was within earshot as Parayko spoke, and playfully thanked him for the praise as he walked by. As it turns out, scoring four third-period goals is one way to lighten up a locker room.
Though it was the empty-net goal with under three minutes to play that secured the hat trick, Fabbri’s crown jewel atop the beanies, visors and snapbacks collected on the ice was undoubtedly his second goal, which extended the Blues’ lead to 5-3 earlier in the third period.
During a battle for the puck along the boards, Philadelphia’s Nick Cousins tried to grab Fabbri from behind to separate him from the puck. Fabbri fought for leverage and maintained control of it just long enough to shake Cousins, opening a path to the net.
“I sort of felt him on my shoulder there so I tried to spin off him and it ended up working,” Fabbri said, meekly describing his highlight reel goal. “Bergie and Jasky took their guys at the net and sort of gave me a lane there.”
Without his wicked moves along the boards, the lane created by Fabbri’s teammates would have gone unused. Rarely does one play encompass the spirit of a player the way that goal did for Fabbri. His tenacity was in peak form fresh off a Christmas break that Ken Hitchcock believes helped immensely with Fabbri’s energy.
“The break really helped him,” Hitchcock said. “He was really beat up. And getting four days off helped him heal. He was really hurting the last four-five games. He was able just to barely play, but he feels good physically and I think you can see it in the jump in his game."
A jump, a skip, a hop–whatever you call it, Fabbri clearly had it Wednesday night. As fervor over the Winter Classic soon fades to a push for the playoffs, the Blues could benefit from more of the same from the dynamic 20-year old.
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