-- The long and winding road finally is about to lead the Los Angeles Kings
back to their home kingdom.
A road trip that started in Las Vegas and wound through two European countries and multiple time zones ended with a 3-2 overtime victory in Philadelphia on Saturday.
"It'll be a nice flight," said Kings forward Justin Williams
. "There'll be talking on the plane. That'll be nice."
The Kings haven't played a game in Los Angeles since a Sept. 25 preseason game against the Anaheim Ducks
, and haven't slept in their own beds since Sept. 29, the night before a road game at the nearby Honda Center.
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From Anaheim they traveled to Las Vegas for a preseason game against the Colorado Avalanche
, and then it was off to Germany for a preseason game against the Hamburg Freezers, followed by a pair of games for the 2011 Compuware NHL Premiere, in Stockholm and Berlin.
"I thought the trip went very well," said Kings coach Terry Murray
. "The European part of it was outstanding. From the accommodations, the National Hockey League had people available to us everywhere we went if we needed anything. Everything was taken care of. I thought it was very exciting just playing in Europe. The fans are so into the game, they're up and chanting and singing the whole game. It was a great experience for all of us."
They returned to spend a few days in Annapolis, Md., where they were able to readjust to life in North America and get some practice time in. They got back into action with a 2-1 shootout loss in New Jersey on Thursday, followed by Saturday's dramatic overtime win against the Flyers.
No one in the Kings' locker room could have been faulted for having one eye on the trip home during Saturday's game -- especially when top defenseman Drew Doughty
was knocked out of the game with an upper-body injury early in the first period. He played just one shift totaling 1:10 after being hurt 24 seconds into the game.
"We had a lot of excuses," said Kings center Mike Richards
, who set up the winning goal against his former team Saturday. "As I'm starting to be with the club more and more, you see what kind of character we have in here. There's a lot of excuses we could have used tonight. They came out hard, we got a big goal on the power play to answer and give us a little jump. In the third period we dug down and found a way to win."
The trip was long and exhausting, but the reward at end is what the players are focused on.
"I think it was important for us to come out of here with a point and that's what we did," Kings captain Dustin Brown
told NHL.com. "On a pretty extensive road trip we went 2-1-1 and we'll take that home."
They won't be home for too long. They'll have two days off followed by a home game against the St. Louis Blues
. After that it's back on the road -- although just a short trip to Phoenix -- followed by their first back-to-back home games since their second and third preseason contests in mid-September.
"We've been on the road on and off for the last three weeks," said Brown. "A lot of traveling. Not just on the road -- extensive travel. I know I am, and I'm sure every other player, is excited just to get home and get a few nights in our own bed."
Contact Adam Kimelman at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK