After claiming Southern California supremacy with another Game 7 victory, the Kings are headed to their third straight Western Conference finals with their eyes on another Stanley Cup title.
Williams, Jeff Carter and Mike Richards scored in an overwhelming first period, and Los Angeles beat the Anaheim Ducks 6-2 on Friday night to earn a conference finals rematch with the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks.
“We have shown that we’re able to get it done,” said Williams who has six goals and six assists in six career Game 7s. “At the same time, we might have two more to play this year. We are moving on, and we’re happy, but we know it’s just halfway there.”
Game 1 is Sunday in Chicago.
After two weeks of back-and-forth hockey and close games in the local rivals’ first postseason series, the Kings concluded the Freeway Faceoff with a no-doubter. Los Angeles chased overmatched rookie goalie John Gibson, held Ryan Getzlaf to one assist and silenced the Honda Center - except for those Kings fans chanting “This is our house!”
Los Angeles has won eight playoff series in the last three seasons, but the next step is a doozy. Chicago rolled through St. Louis and Minnesota in defense of its title, while the Kings have played two straight seven-game series, winning six consecutive elimination games.
“It’s the playoffs,” Williams said. “If you play seven every round, you don’t get much rest. To advance, you’ve got to beat the best, and Chicago is the best right now. We’re going to get out there and try to go to work.”
The NHL’s best defensive team surprisingly scored four goals in the first 22:02 against Anaheim, starting with the sixth goal in six career Game 7s for Williams, who averages two points per game in seventh games.
“I’m proud of my numbers in Game 7, but the one I’m most proud of is 6-0,” Williams said.
The Kings provided ample cushion for Quick, who has never lost a Game 7. He underlined his status as the most bankable big-game goalie in the NHL with 25 saves, even stopping a penalty shot by 43-goal scorer Corey Perry.
Gaborik scored six goals in the series’ four games in Anaheim, giving him an NHL-best nine goals in his first postseason with the Kings. Gaborik, Williams and Richards are unbeaten in six career trips to Game 7, while Carter improved to 4-0.
“We’re built for the playoffs, for sure,” Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said. “We struggled during the regular season. I don’t know the reason why, but we’re always ready for when it really counts.”