Flyers-Sabres observations: Ivan Provorov shines, Nolan Patrick to the rescue
It wasn't an artistic win, but the Flyers will take it. Amazingly, despite a recent 10-game losing streak, they are just two points out of a playoff spot.
Five observations from the Flyers' fifth consecutive victory, a 2-1 win Thursday over Buffalo at the Wells Fargo Center:
During their five-game winning streak, there has been a common thread: Better discipline.
The Flyers allowed only one power-play chance Thursday, and they have given opponents just one or two power plays in the five wins.
"I think we obviously knew we needed to be more disciplined," defenseman Travis Sanheim said. "In saying that, we still want to play our game, play a hard game. We are benefiting from staying out of the box."
MacDonald, Provorov shine
The Flyers' defense has been steadied by the return of veteran Andrew MacDonald, who complements his standout partner, Ivan Provorov.
MacDonald was credited with five blocked shots in 24:26, and Provorov had six hits and eight shots (four on goal) in 27:55.
Provorov also made a key block on Rasmus Ristolainen's point drive with 21 seconds left as Buffalo had an extra attacker.
Goalie Brian Elliott said he never saw the shot, so the block was critical.
"I lost it through the crowd and it ended up hitting one of our guys, and I think that's kind of been the story — those wristers aren't getting through," Elliott said. "That's huge for me."
Patrick to the rescue
Nolan Patrick didn't score, but he made arguably the game's most important play. After a first-period giveaway by Elliott, the rookie center prevented a wraparound goal by Sam Reinhart with a skate save. The Flyers then went down the other end and scored to tie it at 1-1.
"Kind of a desperation play," Patrick said.
It was a game-turning sequence in a victory that gave the Flyers their first five-game win streak (all in regulation) since 2010.
After a head-scratching first period in which he gave up a gift goal on a turnover and was bailed out by Patrick on another gaffe, Elliott rebounded and was excellent over the last 40 minutes.
He has started the last six games, and he will continue to get the nod because Michal Neuvirth is injured and the Flyers don't yet have faith in backup Alex Lyon.
The Flyers didn't play their sharpest game. The passing wasn't crisp, and they had too many turnovers and not enough offensive-zone time.
But they found a way to win a tight-checking game, showing signs of growth. (It was their first victory in a game Sean Couturier or Claude Giroux didn't collect a point.) This is the type of game a team needs to grind out and win if it is a playoff contender.
And, amazingly, despite a recent 10-game losing streak, the Flyers are just two points out of a playoff spot.