Kings ready to ‘let ‘em rip’ against Washington Capitals

Jeff Carter, Ray Emery
Jeff Carter tries to settle the puck in front of Philadelphia goalie Ray Emery on Monday during the Kings’ 3-2 win over the Flyers.
(Matt Slocum / Associated Press)

WASHINGTON -- At least Kings Coach Darryl Sutter is consistent.

His standard response when asked which goaltender will start a particular game is, “Be there for the song,” meaning you’ll see who it is when the starters are on the ice for the national anthem. Mostly, he doesn’t want to give anything away.

Although he didn’t use those exact words Tuesday, he still wouldn’t disclose whether Jonathan Quick — the winner Monday at Philadelphia — or Martin Jones will start Tuesday against the Capitals.

But he did mention the fact that the Kings will play three games in four nights, so it’s probable Jones will start either Tuesday or on Thursday at Pittsburgh to conclude the trip.

[Updated 3:35 p.m., Tuesday: Quick led the team onto the ice at the Verizon Center, the role traditionally given to the starter.]

The Kings didn’t have a morning skate Tuesday, opting instead to sleep in after arriving in Washington by train from Philadelphia. That means no injury updates, either.

“Didn’t skate,” Sutter said, “So we said meeting at the hotel, put them in the warmup and let ‘em rip.”

The Kings faced the Capitals on Thursday at Staples Center, a 2-1 shootout victory. Having faced them so recently allowed Sutter to file away some thoughts, though of course, the same is true for the Capitals.

“It’s not so much what we learned. We know they’re a good hockey team. Big team up front, good skating defense,” he said. “Obviously [Jaroslav] Halak has come in and played really well for them. Statistic-wise, their power play ... we’ve seen that [Monday] night and all three teams we play on this trip are dominant power-play teams.”

Sutter also said he doubted that Jeff Carter’s energetic performance against the Flyers on Monday was motivated by a desire to beat his ex-teammates. Carter had the Kings’ first goal in their 3-2 victory.

“He had lots of shooting opportunities. It’s not every night he has that,” Sutter said. “He’s our fastest player. I don’t put a whole lot on it being because he was coming back to Philly. To me, that’s blown way out of proportion. Jeff Carter and Mike Richards…Justin Williams played 4 1/2 years and they never talked about him. John Stevens coached there. Jeff Carter and Mike Richards, they hadn’t played there for three years.”

Still, several of Carter’s teammates said he seemed especially motivated against the Flyers. And Sutter acknowledged that Williams, Richards and Carter all played well, though the quirks of the NHL schedule means that players often have to wait to visit their old cities after they’re traded.

“We had seven or eight guys that had never played in Philadelphia,” Sutter said. “We’ve got seven or eight guys who have played these guys once.”

Dustin Brown and Jarret Stoll, he said, told him they had played Philadelphia and Washington fewer than 10 times in their respective careers and rarely on the road.

“And it’s not like the buildings are new. It’s hard to imagine, actually,” Sutter said.

Washington-area reporters asked Sutter’s opinion of former King Dustin Penner, who was traded by the Ducks to the Capitals this month.

“We won the Stanley Cup. He scored an overtime goal in the conference championship to put us in the Stanley Cup finals,” Sutter said. “That’s what I remember most …. Pens is a good guy, a funny guy.”

Incidentally, General Manager Dean Lombardi was in Philadelphia and is in Washington on Tuesday, but he plans to then make a trip to scout some junior games and American Hockey League contests.