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Carter unlikely to play Friday

by Rich Hammond / Los Angeles Kings
EDMONTON -- Coming off perhaps their best overall game of the season, the Kings got bad news Thursday when they learned that winger Jeff Carter is unlikely to play Friday night.

Carter suffered an ankle injury, according to general manager Dean Lombardi, at some point during the Kings’ victory over Calgary on Wednesday night. Carter did not practice Thursday, and the severity of his injury is still being determined, but Carter’s chances of playing Friday don’t look encouraging.

``I’d say he’s probably unlikely,’’ Sutter said.

Since arriving from Columbus in a Feb. 24 trade, Carter has six goals and three assists in 16 games. Moreover, though, he has provided balance to the Kings’ forwards and has helped make them a more threatening group overall on offense. Without Carter, Sutter did some shuffling in practice.

Brad Richardson, who has been a healthy for nine consecutive games, skated on the first line with Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown. Mike Richards centered the second line, with Justin Williams on right wing and either Dwight King or Jordan Nolan on left wing. The third line of Dustin Penner, Jarret Stoll and Trevor Lewis stayed the same, while Colin Fraser centered Kyle Clifford and Kevin Westgarth on the fourth line.

Sutter, though, would not commit to using those exact lines Friday against Edmonton.

``I haven’t decided yet,’’ Sutter said after practice. ``Lots of guys can play different positions. We’ll see what the Oilers are doing first.’’

Regardless, it seems likely that Richardson will replace Carter in the lineup, which would represent a change in fortune for him. A lineup regular over the past two seasons with the Kings, Richardson has been a healthy scratch in 23 of 77 games this season. He has three goals and two assists in 54 games.

``I hope Carts is fine. We need him in our lineup. But if I’m in, I’m ready to go,’’ Richardson said. ``I think I’ve played with everyone in this room. So I’m excited. If I get to play with Kopi Brownie tomorrow, that would be awesome. I’m playing great. If that works out, then I’m excited to get back in there.’’

Carter’s absence would also leave a large hole on the Kings’ power play, which has already been struggling. The Kings went 0-for-4 against Calgary and are 1-for-24 on the power play in their last seven games.

``Power play has been awful,’’ Sutter said. ``Even last night. You talk about a (good) 60-minute game. It wasn’t a 60-minute game. In the second period, we had two power plays that changed the momentum of the game. We had to play our fourth line, back-to-back shifts, after both power plays to get the momentum back.’’
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