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Kings' Kris Versteeg is back in practice after early exit against Ducks

There are some occasions when you know it isn't going to be your day.

One fine day? Not really.

Saturday appeared to be just that for Kings winger Kris Versteeg. Like some of his NHL colleagues, Versteeg doesn't wear a helmet in pregame warmups and he suffered the consequences in the moments leading up to the Kings' afternoon game against the Ducks at Staples Center.

"I got a puck off the top of the head in warmups," Versteeg said, adding that he was fine. "I've never worn a helmet, even in the minors. That was my first time and it's not like I'm going to wear one now. It doesn't really matter.

"I'm sure, sooner or later, that's going to be taken out of the game. So might as well enjoy it while I can. Honestly, it's one of the guys' favorite parts of the game, to go out there and you don't have to wear your helmet in warmup. It's not going to change me."

And then Versteeg's firsthand, opening taste of the Kings-Ducks rivalry was severely curtailed, by virtue of his tussle with the Ducks' Rickard Rakell in the first seven minutes. Versteeg did not play in the second and third periods Saturday, calling it "precautionary," but did practice Sunday.

"Basically my second shift of the game and that was it," Versteeg said. "That's what I expected. I know when I played with Chicago, the Ducks played a lot the same way. Obviously it's a little more heated here, being down the highway."

It was Rakell's first fight at the NHL level. In fact, he never even fought in his junior hockey days.

"I didn't even know who it was at the time," Versteeg said. "I just jumped in and started grabbing guys. I could kind of tell early on that he probably didn't [fight much] when it was kind of going my way. Then when I got thrown down, I was pretty much out of gas.

"Pretty much before it all started, I had no gas left."

It was near the end of his shift and Versteeg was about to make the line change.

"You get out there and you're wrestling some more and then all of a sudden you're fighting," Versteeg said. "Good for him for standing in … I'm sure it's a story for him one day and it's exciting for the rivalry.

"…You go grab guys and you think it's over. And then you go back and you grab more guys. By the end I was pretty much drained of all my energy."

Anaheim rewind

There has been one game since Feb. 12 in which the Kings scored more than two goals, and that was Thursday against Montreal when the Kings won, 3-2.

Kings center Jeff Carter has one goal in his last 12 games, and Tyler Toffoli, who has scored 24 goals this season, has one in his last 12 games as well.

The Ducks took over first place in the Pacific Division with the victory and they beat the Kings twice in less than a week.

"One of the best games we played the whole last month was the game in Anaheim [on Feb. 28]," Kings Coach Darryl Sutter said Sunday after practice. "That's as well as we can play. And they beat us. Give them a lot of credit. That's a really good hockey club.

"Yesterday, we missed chances. Guys haven't scored enough, so our team has to really check perfectly to maintain a spot, clearly."

KINGS UP NEXT

VS. VANCOUVER

When: Monday, 7:30 p.m.

On the air: TV: Channel 13. Radio: 790.

Update: The Kings' vintage jerseys will be on display for the final time this season, as part of the Legends Night honoring Jimmy Carson, who was drafted by the Kings. He had two stints with the organization, from 1986-1988 and was later on the Stanley Cup finalist team in 1993.

Follow Lisa Dillman on Twitter: @reallisa

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
A version of this article appeared in print on March 07, 2016, in the Sports section of the Los Angeles Times with the headline "Versteeg practices after early exit - KINGS REPORT" — Today's paperToday's paper | Subscribe
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