The Los Angeles Kings made themselves at home in November.
Even the Winnipeg Jets, who have been road warriors over the past month to set their own records, couldn’t find a way to disrupt the Kings’ flow on home ice.
Joakim Ryan and Nikolai Prokhorkin each scored, and the Kings beat the Jets 2-1 on Saturday night. Jack Campbell made 33 saves for Los Angeles, which went 7-1-1 at home in November.
With 17 of their next 25 games in December and January away from home, the Kings’ challenge is to take this momentum with them.
“Well, we don’t need to change our game, and I think that’s the biggest thing we need to understand,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said. “The structure is in place. When we play it we have a chance, we give ourselves an opportunity, but we have to be better prepared to start games on the road and better prepared to dig in a little longer, a little earlier, a little longer and find ways to come out of it.”
Jack Roslovic scored, but the Jets were unable to pick up an 11th win in their record-setting November. Winnipeg went 10-3-1, the most wins in the month in franchise history. Laurent Brossoit made 32 saves.
With the Jets playing their ninth road game of the month, the Kings were able to take advantage with a strong first period, one McLellan described as among their best this season.
Ryan put the Kings up 1-0 at 7:34 of the first period. It was Ryan’s first goal with the Kings after signing with them as a free agent in July, going 65 NHL games between goals since scoring against Minnesota on Feb. 25, 2018, when he was playing for San Jose.
The Kings took a 2-0 lead at 12:12 on Prokhorkin’s third goal. Prokhorkin, who had been a healthy scratch for the previous two games, was just outside the crease to put in the rebound of a shot by Trevor Lewis.
Roslovic made it 2-1 at 4:18 of the third period on a sharp-angle shot off a pass from Tucker Poolman.
“They came out determined, and it took us a little while to match it,” Jets centre Blake Wheeler said. “Ultimately, the first period cost us, but there was a lot of that game that turned out to be real good and a real good battle by us giving us a chance to win.”
Mark Scheifele had a chance to send the game to overtime after finding himself 1-on-1 with Campbell, but the Kings backup saved a backhand shot with two seconds remaining.
“I thought our guys did a great job that final minute,” Campbell said. “I just had to kind of make that one save for them.”
The Jets went 7-2-0 on the road this month, but their weariness was evident as they were packing up.
“You go 10-3 in any month in the National Hockey League with the amount of road time, I think 24 nights on the road,” Jets coach Paul Maurice said before pausing mid-sentence.
Maurice then said: “We’re ready to go back home.”