By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Jeff Carter carved his way into the same record book as Wayne Gretzky in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals.
Carter became the first Kings player since Gretzky in 1993 to record a hat trick in a playoff game. He increased his goal output in this postseason by 300 percent and helped lift Los Angeles to a 4-0 win against Phoenix and a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Game 3 is Thursday at Staples Center (9 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN, RDS).
"I hope so," Carter said to laughter when he was asked if he's finally off the mat after being held to just one goal in the Kings' first 10 playoff games. "I mean, obviously I'd love to be scoring every game. They haven't come that easily for me the last little while here. It's something that I've been working on in practice, trying to get to the net during the game, get a couple greasy ones. I was lucky enough [Tuesday night]."
Carter -- along with his 11-year, $58 million contract -- was brought into Los Angeles from Columbus at the trade deadline to provide some offense. But until Tuesday, he had been quiet with only seven goals in 26 games as a King, regular season and postseason combined.
In a roundabout way he admitted his confidence was sagging.
"You're obviously thinking about it. It's always in the back of your mind," said Carter, who scored twice on 5-on-3 power plays. "I tried to keep patient and keep working in practice, during the games trying to get to the net, trying to get a couple good bounces there. [I was] lucky enough to get a couple. It's a good start."
His coach said he sensed it was coming.
"He's certainly getting good opportunities, so it's good to see him cash in," coach Darryl Sutter said. "He had a couple the other night, really good ones, and then [Tuesday night] early, he had one, too, where he was cutting in on the power play. You know it's coming. Guys like that, it's percentages."
The Kings needed the big night from Carter because the Coyotes made a smart tactical change to limit L.A.'s top line of Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown and Justin Williams.
A new trio of Boyd Gordon with Lauri Korpikoski and Mikkel Boedker did a good job of limiting the Kopitar line, which dominated in Game 1 by producing two goals and 15 shots. They had no goals and eight shots on goal in Game 2, but the second line with Carter, Mike Richards and Dustin Penner cashed in for five points and 12 shots on goal.
"It's huge for this team," Brown said of the balanced attack. "This is what it has been for us all playoffs. We have a lot of guys playing at high levels and we have guys stepping up at different times. You can go back all the way to the first game of the playoffs, that was a big win for us and it had a lot to do with Richards. Every night you can pull one player and they made the difference for us. Kopi is probably the one guy that does it every night for us, but we've got guys on different nights doing different things for us."
It was Carter's turn on Tuesday. If he continues to do it, the Kings might sail right into the Stanley Cup Final.
"It was a good night for us. We needed to have a big night," Carter said. "Kopi, Brownie and Stick [Williams] have been carrying us for a while. We needed to do our part."
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl