PHILADELPHIA – Disciplined hockey hasn’t exactly been a trademark of the Flyers the past couple seasons.
But for a current two-week stretch, Philadelphia has been about as orderly a bunch as you’re going to find in the NHL.
Over the past six games, the most recent five all victories, the Flyers have surrendered only a total of 10 power plays.
They’ve managed to kill nine of those and that’s a big reason why they’ve turned things around after suffering through a 10-game (0-5-5) winless streak.
The Flyers allowed the Buffalo Sabres just one power play on Thursday night and that helped pave the way to a 2-1 win at the Wells Fargo Center.
Rookie defenseman Travis Sanheim scored his first NHL goal and Valtteri Filppula’s tie-breaking goal at 17:27 of the second period held up as the game-winner.
Don’t look now but the Flyers are pushing their way back into the playoff chase.
Goalie Brian Elliott made only one early mistake all night and it resulted in a goal (his clear attempt was knocked down behind the net and he was trapped back there), but other than that, he was flawless.
When the Flyers don’t have to play shorthanded, they’re actually pretty good. They’ve allowed only 45 goals five-on-five, which leads the NHL.
“That (taking penalties) is something we struggled with for that 10-game stretch,’’ Elliott said. “When you don’t give them those (power-play) opportunities, there are less chances.
“We’ve done a good job checking with our feet, not our sticks. I think that’s the cause of us not taking as many penalties.’’
The Flyers got off to a slow start in the first – Sanheim called it the team’s worst period of the season – but managed to stay tied after 20 minutes.
Elliott tried to lift the puck clear but it was blocked by Zemgus Girgensons and relayed to Rick O’Reilly out front for a goal at 1:29.
That, however, was countered by Sanheim at 4:02 when his long shot went through traffic and zipped past goalie Robin Lehner.
Filppula took the Flyers’ lone penalty in the closing seconds of the second period but no damage was done.
“Part of it (not taking penalties) is a mindset,’’ Filppula said. “It’s not trying to make that extra play, which can wind up being a penalty. It’s been pretty good the last two games (only one PP in each).’’
Voracek, who moved into the NHL assist lead with his 31st, declared this wasn’t one of the Flyers’ better efforts but at least they played with a sense of discipline.
“We found a way to win,’’ he said. “We’re not going to play great every night.
“When you don’t play well, you don’t want to be taking penalties. We have to stay tight, play smart.’’
Nolan Patrick agreed with that assessment.
“A lot of stick penalties come from standing still,’’ he said. “Sometimes it’s being a little too aggressive. It’s part of the game but the main thing is try to avoid it (the penalty box) as much as you can.’’
The Flyers have won five straight after going winless in 10. The record for consecutive wins after a 10-game winless streak is seven, held by the 1966-67 Toronto Maple Leafs. This is only the fifth time in NHL history a team has gone 10 games without a win, then won five in a row or more. . .Dale Weiss retrieved the puck from the Buffalo net after Sanheim scored. It was a special moment. “That’s going to do wonders for his game,’’ Weise said. “He’s been wanting to get one. I’m so happy for him.’’
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