But in his first game back in the building where he started his NHL career, it was obvious to his teammates that Monday against the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center was more than just an ordinary road game.
Carter played like someone with something to prove, scoring the game's first goal and firing a game-high seven shots on goal in the Kings' 3-2 win.
"There's an added incentive any time you play your former team, especially the way things ended here," said teammate Justin Williams, who also played for the Flyers. "I know he wanted this game bad."
The loss, combined with the New York Rangers' 4-3 overtime defeat of the Phoenix Coyotes, dropped the Flyers to third in the Metropolitan Division, one point behind the Rangers. The teams will play Wednesday at Madison Square Garden (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN2, RDS).
The Kings led 2-0 after two periods, but the Flyers were able to tie the game at 8:18 of the third on Voracek's goal. However, the Kings took the momentum back 2:18 later on King's goal.
Miscommunication between Hartnell and Kimmo Timonen at the Los Angeles blue line led to a Philadelphia turnover. Slava Voynov started a 2-on-1 breakout the other way and he centered a pass to King, who beat Emery from the bottom of the left circle at 10:36 for his 13th goal.
"I thought they came out flying in the third and they were dominating us until they got the two goals," Kings captain Dustin Brown said. "I thought [King's] goal was huge because it settled our game back into where it needed to be and pushed them down a level.'
Flyers coach Craig Berube said the misplay was a combination of an aggressive pinch by a defenseman and a forward not covering for him.
"Timonen was in, and Timonen, Hartnell and [Claude] Giroux, they were all around the puck," Berube said. "[Defenseman Braydon Coburn] was back, and they ended up getting a 2-on-1 out of it. One of the forwards should have been back with Timonen up, and they got a little too aggressive there."
Carter brought his own level of aggression to the game. After a scoreless first period, he got the Kings on the board 1:49 into the second. The play began with the Flyers unable to clear the puck out of their zone. It ended up in the right corner with Tyler Toffoli sending it back to Alec Martinez at the point. Martinez's shot was blocked in front by Flyers defenseman Mark Streit, but the puck bounced to Carter in the left circle, and he snapped a quick wrist shot past Emery before he could get into position.
It was the kind of snap shot Flyers fans saw lots of during Carter's six seasons in Philadelphia, during which he scored 181 goals in 461 games. However, that run came to an end June 23, 2011, when the Flyers traded him to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for Voracek and the picks that became center Sean Couturier and forward prospect Nick Cousins.
At the 2012 NHL Trade Deadline, the Blue Jackets shipped Carter to the Kings, where he joined former Philadelphia teammate Mike Richards, who had been traded to the Kings in exchange for Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn the same day in 2011.
Richards and Carter had been the cornerstones of a Flyers team that reached the 2008 Eastern Conference Final and 2010 Stanley Cup Final. But while Richards already had played one game as a visitor in Philadelphia, Monday marked Carter's first time as a visiting player here. With nearly three years having passed, however, Carter said before the game that he was doing his best to treat it like just another road game.
However, it was obvious his emotions were running a bit higher Monday.
"He gets himself ready for each and every game," Brown said. "Emotionally, it was probably a little different for him. But from a preparation standpoint, physically and mentally getting ready, he was no different than he normally is."
After Carter's goal broke the ice, the Flyers had chances to tie the game. Vincent Lecavalier had a prime opportunity in front on an open net from point-blank range 2:45 into the second, but his shot hit the right goal post, the crossbar and the left goal post. The horn sounded but play continued for several minutes. A replay review upheld the call on the ice of no goal.
Philadelphia also had back-to-back power plays midway through the period when Carter and Williams were whistled for infractions, including 30 seconds of 5-on-3 time, but they were unable to get a shot off with the two-man advantage. For the game the Flyers went 0-for-4 on the power play.
Moments after killing off the penalties Williams scored his 18th goal to give the Kings a 2-0 lead. Robyn Regehr fired a shot from the left point that Emery stopped, but the goalie left a big rebound in front. Williams got position inside Coburn in front of the Philadelphia net and poked it past Emery at 17:29.
"I thought Justin Williams' goal in particular was key considering the non-goal call, that whole situation, and having to kill off a 5-on-3, 4-on-3," Brown said. "Being able to come back and get a goal like that was ultimately the difference in the game."
Philadelphia came out pushing in the third and was able to tie the game, but after the final horn sounded they were left lamenting a subpar first two periods.
"I don't think we played a good game the first 40 minutes," Voracek said. "... I think overall the last 20 minutes was good, but you can tell just 20 minutes against a team like L.A., it's not good enough."
The Kings hope their resiliency is something they can take with them during the next two games of their road trip, starting Tuesday at the Washington Capitals and concluding Thursday at the Pittsburgh Penguins. Adding to their positivity is a six-game road win streak.
"We're a good team on the road," Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said. "We're not good enough at home. That's what's hurt us this year. When we're on the road, we seem comfortable. That's a good thing."
|Jeff Carter (25) ASST: Alec Martinez (7), Tyler Toffoli (15)|
1 - 0 LAK
|Justin Williams (18) ASST: Robyn Regehr (10), Anze Kopitar (37)|
2 - 0 LAK
|Matt Read (20) ASST: Braydon Coburn (11), Sean Couturier (26)|
2 - 1 LAK
|Jakub Voracek (20) ASST: Scott Hartnell (28)|
2 - 2 Tie
|Dwight King (13) ASST: Slava Voynov (26)|
3 - 2 LAK
|Jeff Carter Interference against Nicklas Grossmann|
|Braydon Coburn Holding the stick against Tanner Pearson|
|Slava Voynov Tripping against Claude Giroux|
|Zac Rinaldo Interference against Willie Mitchell|
|Jeff Carter Cross checking against Kimmo Timonen|
|Justin Williams Slashing against Braydon Coburn|
|Zac Rinaldo Roughing against Kyle Clifford|
|Kyle Clifford Roughing against Zac Rinaldo|
|Jakub Voracek Slashing against Mike Richards|
|Mark Streit Hooking against Mike Richards|