The teams played scoreless hockey for 53-plus minutes, going long stretches with neither generating much offense. But to the trained eye, the game had plenty of redeeming value.
"It wasn't 50 minutes of nothing," Sutter said. "I thought it was a pretty good game. Carolina played last night, we travelled all day. Both goalies made two or three big saves. Both teams' special teams were pretty good."
In the end, it came down a lone shootout goal, a backhander by Jeff Carter that beat Carolina's Cam Ward over the blocker. Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick stopped Jeff Skinner, Alexander Semin and Nathan Gerbe in the shootout to preserve the win.
Quick boasts a 70 percent save percentage in shootouts, good for sixth among active goalies. His record stands at 32-18. Ward is 11-23 with a .614 save percentage.
The Kings broke the scoreless tie 13:26 into the third period while L.A.'s Jarret Stoll was serving a hooking penalty, as Dwight King took advantage of a Carolina turnover to score his 10th career goal. After Hurricanes defenseman Justin Faulk bobbled Eric Staal's errant cross-ice pass, King moved in and beat Ward with a backhander for a shorthanded goal.
"The [defenseman] was on my left side, so I had no other option than going to the backhand," King said. "The only other thing I did was fake high, then go between his legs.
"Obviously, you just want to get out of there with a kill. You get an opportunity to take advantage of one of those and it's nice."
The Kings had a great chance to win in overtime when Jay Harrison went to the penalty box for tripping. But the Hurricanes frustrated the Kings' 4-on-3 power play, clearing the puck four times and not allowing a shot on goal.
"That needs a little work. That was ugly," Carter said. "But we ended up with two points. It's never easy coming all the way out here (to the East Coast)."
Carter's crisp backhander gave the Kings two points in the first game of their four-game road trip. He credited goaltending coach Bill Ranford for preparing the Los Angeles shootout specialists prior to each game, but he admitted to another advantage going against Ward.
"I can't tell you all my secrets," Carter said. "But I've got a little head start on everybody because I played in the Eastern Conference for six years."
The Hurricanes' play met the standards of coach Kirk Muller. He added big defenseman Mike Komisarek and enforcer Kevin Westgarth to the lineup for the first time this season, hoping to match the Kings' physical presence.
"The Kings demand you to play a hard-fought, low-scoring game," Muller said. "I think that's a game that shows our team is growing together. They came in and did what they had to do with two big bodies."
Sutter was quick to praise the Hurricanes, who blocked 23 shots and did not give up a lot of quality scoring chances.
"I think Kirk Muller, Dave Lewis and John MacLean have them playing the way they want them to play in terms of goals against and defense," the Kings coach said. "That's kind of what we try and do too."
Hurricanes rookie Elias Lindholm, who scored his first NHL goal Thursday night in Washington, left the game early in the second period, favoring his right arm after a hard check in the corner. He did not return.
Friday night's game marked the first time that Hurricanes forward Brett Sutter played against a team coached by his father. Brett, drafted in the sixth round of the 2005 NHL Draft, has played 42 games in five seasons with the Flames and Hurricanes.
"I just told him, I never looked at him at all except on faceoffs," the elder Sutter said. "He's a solid player. He's made his own way."