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Recap: The Long (Plane) Ride Home

The Kings haven’t won in Buffalo since Christ was a child* and that didn’t change today.

NHL: Los Angeles Kings at Buffalo Sabres Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

*Sarah tells me this is, in fact, not true and that they won two seasons ago??

Hockey, by its nature, is a dumb sport. You can outplay the other team, play well enough to win, and one bad bounce will go against you.

On the bright side, the road trip is FINALLY over. The Los Angeles Kings can come home, enjoy a few days off, spend the Christmas holiday (if they celebrate) relaxing a little bit before they fly out to San Jose on the 27th.

The Los Angeles Kings are a team accustomed to making history. While they couldn’t quite pull off a franchise record six points in six games, losing one game in regulation is very impressive for this rebuilding squad. Collecting points against very good Pittsburgh Penguins and Atlantic Division leading Boston Bruins teams is nothing to sneeze at.

Kale Clague made his NHL debut and he looked excellent. Jim Fox couldn’t stop gushing about Clague’s skating skills and really, it’s not hard to see why. Clague is such a smooth skater, he has the ability to get up and down the ice quickly and (seemingly) effortlessly. Moving forward, that’s going to be important to this team who play a quick possession game under Todd McLellan. He very nearly got his first NHL point with a crisp pass to Michael Amadio but the hockey gods really are making the Kings (and their suffering fans) work for every little thing now. Maybe they used up all their luck in Boston.

Unfortunately, the Kings lost this game in regulation and also lost Trevor Lewis to an upper body injury when he was injured in a collision with a Buffalo Sabres player along the boards 91 seconds into the first period. That’s not ideal, especially for a team at the very end of a long road trip. But they managed well in Lewis’s absence.

Nikolai Prokhorkin is looking more and more comfortable with each game that he plays in. He was excellent early on against the Sabres, showing off his strength and his good vision. The low-risk, high-reward is starting to look like it’s paying off. But, there’s still a lot of hockey to be played.

Adrian Kempe opened the scoring for LA in the second period. After some great board work by Blake Lizotte and Austin Wagner, Lizotte came up with the puck and found Kempe unmarked, completely alone just below the circles. Kempe unleashed a beautiful wrist shot that beat Linus Ullmark clean and extended his goal scoring streak to three games.

Sometimes having a lower center of gravity pays off.

And then bad things happened.

Anze Kopitar came thisclose to tying the game at end of the second period, but was robbed. And while Dustin Brown added a goal in the final minute of regulation, it was too late, as the Sabres had already added an empty net goal to their count. Just wasn’t LA’s afternoon, it seems. They did have a little bit of penalty trouble, which is not super great. However, their penalty kill was perfect today. While the Kings didn’t exactly climb out of the basement with their 8 points, they put some distance between themselves and the bottom feeders.

Their odds of getting Alexis Lafrenière are pretty slim anyway. Might as well go for it and take your chances in the lottery over the summer. What’s the worst that can happen?