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Seventeen Damn Goals!

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 29: Jonathan Quick #32 of the Los Angeles Kings reaches for a puck that goes into the goal during the second period against the Seattle Kraken at Arena on November 29, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Juan Ocampo/NHLI via Getty Images)
Juan Ocampo/NHLI via Getty Images

While the rest of the country is glomming onto the U.S. Men's World Cup march to the Round Of Pending Elimination Against The Netherlands, and a few hoopistas nuzzled up against the incandescence of Luka Doncic's 41/12/12, the indisputable zenith of the sports day was Seattle's 9-8 overtime win over Los Angeles because, HOLY DEITIES OF YOUR CHOICE THERE WAS A 9-8 HOCKEY GAME!

After all, the USMNT will happen again Saturday and though it wouldn't be the way to bet there might be more after that, and Doncic did a 42/13/10 18 days ago and a 41/11/14 five weeks ago, prompting his coach Jason Kidd to dismiss it with a blithe "It's getting boring. I mean, let's see something different. Maybe do it with his left hand."

But 9-8 in a National Hockey League game is a thing, damnit. Hell, the last time a goaltender gave up eight goals in a win was in February of 1991, when George H.W. Bush was president and Donald Trump was a failed USFL owner looking for his next grift. In fact, one can make the case that that Calgary-Quebec game was not as outlandish because lots of teams scored nine goals in that era of hockey. Even the six slashing penalties weren't that unusual in the early '90s because every game was first-to-seven-wins and you had to play the defense available to you.

This was special because hockey is more buttoned down by a healthy 50 percent than in those days, and frankly more of the participants last night seemed offended by the game than invigorated by it.

"It was kind of a messed-up night,'' winning goalscorer Andre Burakovsky said. "We were trading chances, a lot of sloppy plays. I think we played a really bad game, and so did they. We were lucky that they didn't play good at all.''

"It's a very, very confusing night for all of us,'' Kings coach Todd McLellan said from his side of the whack-a-mole table. "I'm really disappointed that we gave up nine goals, absolutely. But on the other side of the coin, I'm glad that we fought back, got a point, and scored eight. So it's mass confusion right now for all of us, and we better fricking figure it out quickly.''

But that's the immediacy talking, and the performative defense-must-be-served song'n'dance. The fact is, this is exactly what hockey needs more of, especially in a place like Seattle which is trying to follow the track of the former expansion gods in Las Vegas who went to the Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural season of 2018. That was a bar way too high for the Kraken (Comrade Imbler will provide a history of hockey-playing cephalopods in their next exciting episode), who were expansion-level rancid last season but one year later seem to be cured of most of their ills. Their roster is largely the same (Burakovsky came from Stanley Cup winner Colorado and goalie Martin Jones from the hellscape of the Philadelphia Flyers, to cite but two different humans), but they are a delight to watch. They are not the best team—that is an argument being engaged in by Boston, New Jersey and Vegas—but the Kraken (14-5-3) have that feel-good vibe the Knights did five years ago, and that's plenty enough for now.

Anyway, 9-8. Let's see the USMNT get nine, or eight. Or hell, two. And Doncic plays Thursday in Detroit; if he doesn't do 41/12/12 by the end of the third quarter he should probably be load-managed until Christmas.

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