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(Friday, May 16th)
Final Score: Los Angeles 6, Anaheim 2
Anaheim, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - No one does Game 7s like Justin Williams and the Los Angeles Kings.
Williams beat John Gibson 4:30 into the game and the Kings scored three goals in the first 16 minutes Friday night to jump-start a series-clinching 6-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks.
The Kings won the last two games of the second-round Western Conference series to improve to 6-0 in elimination games during these playoffs. They advanced to the conference finals for the third year in a row and will face the Blackhawks in Game 1 on Sunday afternoon in Chicago.
Williams, an old pro on hockey's brightest stage, scored his sixth goal in six career Game 7s when he powered into the crease to flick the puck past Gibson's right skate during an early power play, starting a deluge.
The Kings didn't let up on the 20-year-old goaltending sensation, knocking him out of the game on Anze Kopitar's goal 2:02 into the second period, which made it 4-0.
Jeff Carter and Mike Richards also scored in the first 15:12 of the game as the Kings, stacked with Game 7 veterans, showed off their knack for coming through with their backs against the wall.
"The first period was like men against boys, quite frankly," said Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau, who fell to 1-5 in Game 7s. "They were bigger, stronger, faster."
Marian Gaborik's power-play goal against Jonas Hiller made it 5-0 with 5:51 left in the second period -- plenty of room for the Kings and Jonathan Quick to breath.
Quick poke-checked Corey Perry on a penalty shot in the first period and made 25 saves. He didn't give up a goal until 17:02 in the second period when Kyle Palmieri squeeze a one-timer in between his pads and the post.
Williams, Carter, Richards, Gaborik and Quick are a combined 22-0 in Game 7s in their career.
"As a team collectively, we have shown that we are able to get it done," said Williams. "At the same time we might have two more to play this year. We are moving on and we are happy but we know it's just halfway there."
The Kings, who captured the Stanley Cup in 2012 in the first year of their now annual run to the conference finals, are 8-2 in elimination games dating back to 2011.
"They know what they're doing in these situations," said Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf, "and they proved it."
The first playoff series between the two Southern California hockey teams also could mark the end of the road for Ducks forward Teemu Selanne, who has said his 21st NHL season would be his last.
The 43-year-old future Hall-of-Famer received a lengthy standing ovation from the Honda Center crowd after the game and the Kings tapped their sticks on the ice for him.
Selanne, who ranks 11th in NHL history with 684 goals, was asked if it was indeed his last game.
"It's a tough feeling. You want to go further," he said. "We all felt we had a chance to go to the next round, and maybe all the way. It's going to be tough waking up tomorrow morning and realizing it's all over.
"But I want to look at the big picture and enjoy this game, my teammates, the fans and the organization. Not even in my wildest dreams did I expect to have a career like this. I'm very thankful."
Gibson, born in between Selanne's first and second seasons, allowed nine goals on the last 83 shots he faced after making his NHL playoff debut in a Game 4 shutout that tied the series. He had 14 stops in this one and Hiller made 10.
The Ducks won the Pacific Division with 116 points -- second only to Boston in the NHL -- and were the conference's No. 1 seed but failed in a bid to reach the conference finals for the first time since winning their only Stanley Cup title in 2007.
Williams has now scored three Game 7 goals for the Kings -- including both in a 2-1 win over San Jose in last year's second-round clincher. He was scoreless in a Game 7 for the first time in his career last month against the Sharks as the Kings completed their comeback from an 0-3 series hole with a 5-1 win.
He got a second-chance rebound in the crease past Gibson and Carter followed at 8:48 on a break after Ducks defenseman Francois Beauchemin gave the puck away.
In between that goal and Richards' at 15:12, Perry was awarded a penalty shot after his stick snapped on a breakaway. Kings defenseman Drew Doughty used his stick to slash Perry's from behind, though replays appeared to show Perry's stick had already been broken when he blocked a shot at the other end.
According to Elias Sports Bureau, it was just the second penalty shot in a Game 7 in NHL history. Quick came out to knock the puck away from Perry in front of the crease.
Perry beat Quick with a high wrist shot into the top left corner 3:42 into the third period for Anaheim's last goal. Tanner Pearson scored for the Kings off a feed from Carter with 6:06 remaining.
The Ducks lost a Game 7 on home ice for the second year in a row after falling to Detroit in the first round last season.
"We've got a few months to figure it out," said Boudreau. "We can get over it because you have to get over it. By the time training camp comes around you're just excited to be playing hockey. ...
"Right now it's a bitter pull to swallow the way we lost that game, but we have to get over it."
Pearson was the only Kings scorer who didn't also have an assist. Williams raised his career total to 12 points in six Game 7s (6g, 6a) ... Carter and Richards each scored their first Game 7 goal ... Alex Burrows was stopped on a third-period penalty shot for Vancouver in Game 7 against Chicago on April 26, 2011, then later scored the winner in overtime to end that first-round series ... Anaheim fell to 2-4 in Game 7s and the Kings improved to 6-4 ... Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals between the Rangers and Canadiens is Saturday in Montreal.
05/17 01:08:22 ET
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