PHILADELPHIA -- Fittingly, the Kings’ long, bizarre road trip ended with an odd game.
Philadelphia fans cheered a visiting player. The Kings played with five defensemen for most of the game. They took a late lead, then lost it. Jack Johnson, who had never scored a game-winning goal in four seasons, netted his second in his last four games.
The two-week journey ended on a happy note, as Johnson scored 1:39 into overtime to give the Kings a 3-2 victory over the Flyers on Saturday night at Wells Fargo Center.
Johnson’s power-play goal, essentially a redirection of a shot-pass by Mike Richards from the slot, let the Kings to go home happy. They hadn’t seen Southern California since Oct. 1, when they left for Las Vegas, three European cities and the East Coast.
``We’re looking forward to getting back and seeing our families, maybe staying in our time zone for a few days and getting some rest,’’ winger Justin Williams said.
The win came with a cost. Drew Doughty took a big hit from the Flyers’ Zac Rinaldo in the game’s first 30 seconds and left the game shortly thereafter. Doughty is expected to miss 7-10 days with an ``upper-body’’ injury that the Kings said is not head-related.
Without Doughty, the Kings were forced to play with five defensemen against a gritty Flyers team that had started the season with three consecutive wins. The Kings pulled it out, and made it a happy Philadelphia reunion for Richards.
Richards’ return to Philadelphia -- the city where he played his first six NHL seasons -- had been anticipated for days. Flyers fans, notoriously brutal to opponents, even gave Richards a rousing cheer when his name was included in the starting lineup.
Later, Richards got a standing ovation after a brief video-game tribute but, true to their nature, fans started booing Richards when he touched the puck in the second period.
``It was easy once we touched the ice, I think,’’ Richards said of returning to Philadelphia. ``Getting through warmups and getting ready for the game, I was maybe a little nervous or something, but it is what it is. I got on the ice and you feel comfortable after that. You just play hockey. It’s nice to see us get the win.’’
For a while, it appeared that the story might not have a happy ending. Williams scored his second goal of the game with 7:25 remaining to give the Kings a 2-1 lead, but just 27 seconds later, Richards was called for a hooking penalty.
Philadelphia’s Matt Carle scored on the ensuing power play, but Richards more than redeemed himself with an intelligent play in overtime with the Kings on the power play.
Richards controlled the puck near the blue line and carried it to the slot. He faked a slap shot, then spotted Johnson hovering near the left post. Richards fired a pass to Johnson, who essentially redirected it past Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov.
``It took me a second to realize it was in,’’ Richards said. ``Just kind of a broken play. I was just looking for a lane to shoot. I’m not sure what (Flyers defenseman) it was, but he was kind of stepping up there and I was looking for a way to get through him. I saw JJ at the last minute and just kind of threw it to him.’’
Richards and Johnson also connected on an overtime power-play goal in the season opener against the New York Rangers in Stockholm.
``Same thing on both goals, really,’’ Johnson said. ``I had the easy job, just going to the back post and trying to get lost back there. Richards made two great plays.’’
The Kings finished their road trip -- which actually included two ``home’’ games in Europe -- with a 2-1-1 record, not bad considering that including the end of preseason, the team traveled approximately 16,000 miles in the past three weeks.
From Kansas City to Denver to Anaheim to Las Vegas to Hamburg to Stockholm to Berlin to Newark to Philadelphia, the Kings’ world tour went through five time zones and a lot of hotel keys. It ended with a collaborative effort against the Flyers.
Jonathan Quick was sharp again, as he stopped 32 of 34 shots. Williams, another former Flyer, scored two goals and now has five points in four games. The other five defensemen kept things under control basically for 59 minutes without Doughty.
``(Quick) made a bunch of big saves when we needed them,’’ Richards said. ``The defense played a lot of minutes and played them well. We kept it simple. We didn’t try to do too much with it, and we kept a good team off the board.’’
The game did not lack for action early. Less than 30 seconds into the game, Doughty took the big shoulder check from Rinaldo, which led to a retribution attempt.
Dustin Penner skated in and grabbed Rinaldo, which led to a brief fight -- unofficially the eighth of Penner’s NHL career -- and he paid for it with a two-minute instigating penalty and a 10-minute misconduct. Kings coach Terry Murray said Penner also suffered ``a contusion’’ during the fight, and Penner’s minutes were limited after that.
During the Flyers’ power play, after Penner’s penalty, Kings defenseman Matt Greene was called for slashing. The Kings killed all of the Flyers’ 44-second 5-on-3 advantage but the Flyers scored six seconds later. Jaromir Jagr slid the puck across the crease to Danny Briere, who one-timed it past Quick from close range to the left of the net, 2:30 into the game. Chris Pronger also got an assist.
Just like the Flyers, the Kings failed to score on a 5-on-3 advantage, then scored a power play goal in the first period. Williams took a pass from Simon Gagne and shot from the slot. The puck deflected off Bryzgalov's left shoulder and into the net to tie the game 1-1 with 8:31 remaining in the first period. Willie Mitchell also got an assist.
Both teams had ample power-play opportunities in the second period and the early part of the third, but the game remained 1-1 until Williams’ third-period goal.
The Kings took a 2-1 lead with 7:25 remaining in the third period. Johnson made a nice play at the blue line to keep the puck in the Flyers' zone, then Anze Kopitar passed to Williams, who went toward the front of the net. Williams' backhand shot was saved, but Williams worked for the rebound and beat Bryzgalov.
The Kings' lead lasted only 64 seconds. Shortly after Williams' goal, Richards was called for hooking and the Flyers scored 27 seconds into the power play. After a scramble behind the Kings' net, Matt Carle was left open in the middle of the left faceoff circle and scored with 6:31 remaining to make it a 2-2 game.
One final penalty made the difference. Philadelphia’s James van Riemsdyk got called for tripping with 20 seconds left in regulation, so the Kings had a lengthy 4-on-3 power play to start overtime. Johnson’s goal came with one second left on the power play.
After the unconventional trip to Europe, the Kings earned three out of a possible four points against the New Jersey Devils and the Flyers.
``I think it’s best just to forget about it,’’ Williams said. ``Starting in Europe, we’ve been in every time zone since the start of training camp. It’s been exhausting. It’s been a grind, and we’re happy to get out and we want to play in front of our home fans now.’’