Jeff Carter has been a member of the Kings for a short time but it didn't take him long to conclude that their position in the NHL standings doesn't reflect their talent.

"I think the team that we have here probably should be in a playoff spot. It's a heck of a team," said the 27-year-old forward, who was acquired from the Columbus Blue Jackets on Feb. 23 for defenseman Jack Johnson and a conditional first-round draft pick.

"Start from the goalie on out and then you work your way up. I think if we can get on a little roll here we should be all right."

Carter pushed them in the right direction Saturday by scoring his first two goals as a King in the team's 4-2 victory over the Ducks at Staples Center. The Kings remained in ninth place in the West but moved within a point of eighth-place Dallas. The Ducks, who might have waited too long to make another of their annual late surges, stayed seven points behind Dallas.

For the Kings, projected before this season to contend for the Pacific Division and Western Conference lead, scrambling for a playoff spot is a letdown. They've gotten little production from their left wings, and centers Anze Kopitar and Mike Richards have gone through extended slumps. Too many forwards have been played out of position in failed efforts to patch holes.

If not for the stellar play of goaltender Jonathan Quick, where the Kings would be? Probably near the bottom of the West

with Columbus, the team Carter was happy to leave after being traded there from Philadelphia last summer.