The timing of Jeff Carter’s first shift was such that it happened out of a stoppage in play, so there was a built-up pause before he took a faceoff.
The fans at Staples Center used that moment to give Carter a big, audible welcome-back ovation Saturday, and Carter took note.
“It’s good,” Carter said. “It’s nice. It makes you feel good about yourself. You’ve done some good around here. Always nice to hear from fans.”
Unfortunately for Carter and the Kings, they couldn’t return the warm sentiment with a win. They didn’t move the puck well and it ultimately cost them in a 4-3 loss to the Edmonton Oilers that ended with a controversial goalie interference call that negated what would have been Dustin Brown’s score-tying goal with about 10 seconds to go.
Carter, like the Kings, is a work in progress. He got his first game out of the way Saturday and admitted his timing was off, having not played in a game since October because of an ankle tendon injury.
“Just read and react and being in the right place at the right time,” Carter said Sunday. “I could have practiced for two weeks and I still would have felt the same out there. It’s totally different, especially this time of year, when you jump into a game.”
Carter said it shouldn’t take too long to get that feel back and “hopefully doesn’t [take long] anyway. We’ve got some work to do.”
The Kings go into the first half of a home-and-home series against the Vegas Golden Knights with two straight losses, but they can see their personnel come into focus with the return of Carter, in addition to such new players as Dion Phaneuf, Nate Thompson and Tobias Rieder. Thompson, who played against Carter while with the Ducks, is intrigued by having Carter on his side.
“A player of his caliber and how elite he is, and what he’s done year in and year out, even being on the other side of it, playing against him, it’s been fun being on the same team as him,” Thompson said.
“I think adding these guys will be able to spread it around a little bit more for guys’ ice time. Some guys being able to play different roles, and accepting their roles, only makes us better.”
KINGS VS. VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS
When: Monday, 7:30 p.m. PST.
On the air: TV: FS West; Radio: 790.
Update: Trevor Lewis (upper-body injury) skated on his own again but has not yet been cleared to practice with the team, Kings coach John Stevens said. The Kings are winless (0-1-1) against Vegas this season. William Karlsson paces the Golden Knights with 33 goals and is one of five 20-goal scorers for Vegas.