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NHL PLAYOFFS: CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS : KINGS 2, SAN
JOSE 1

It's Justin Time

Williams scores two, Kings in West final after Game 7 thriller

May 29, 2013|Lisa Dillman

Justin Williams looked slightly embarrassed when the suggestion of a nickname was offered by one electronic reporter.

Mr. Game 7.

"I'm going to have to play a few more Game 7s and have a little more success to get that name," Williams said.

For now, custody rests in the eminently capable hands of Williams, who scored twice in the Kings' 2-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks in a taut Game 7 on Tuesday as they won the Western Conference semifinal series, four games to three.

Williams, who had gone eight games without a goal in the playoffs, has nine points, five of them goals, in four career Game 7s.

The defending Stanley Cup champion Kings will play the Chicago Blackhawks or the Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference finals. If Detroit advances, the Kings will host the Red Wings, starting on Friday in Los Angeles. Should the Blackhawks defeat Detroit, the Kings would travel to Chicago for Game 1 on Saturday, with Game 2 on Sunday.

The Kings are 4-4 in Game 7s and the last time they won a Game 7 was in 1993 at Toronto en route to the Stanley Cup Final.

But first, a moment or two to reflect on a hard-fought journey against the Sharks, capped off at Staples Center, where the Kings have won 14 consecutive games.

"We're only halfway up the mountain," Kings goalie Jonathan Quick said.

Quick gave his teammates some oxygen on the climb. He faced 26 shots and was strong early before the first Williams goal and bordered on sublime when the Sharks were surging late. His best save, of many, came on Sharks forward Joe Pavelski with about 5:04 remaining.

Pavelski looked all but certain to score, presented with an open net, but could not lift the puck over Quick, who stopped it with his left arm.

"The rebound got away from me there," Quick said. "I was just fortunate . You're just throwing body parts over there. You hope you get a piece of it."

Said Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi: "We had a couple guys going up to block the shot, Someone fell down. I know I went out to block a shot and of course the rebound goes to Pavelski.

"You're trying your hardest to get back, but you're thinking the worst and then he comes up with the save and, 'Geez, thank God that guy is there.'

"He gives us such confidence and it just radiates through the locker room."

Antti Niemi stopped 16 shots for the Sharks, and defenseman Dan Boyle was the only one to get one past Quick. Boyle's goal, at 5:26 of the third period, seemed to put the crowd on edge, cutting the lead to 2-1.

The Kings looked on edge too. The last 10 minutes felt more like 100.

"I feel like [the clock] was running backward sometimes," Williams said. "You've gotta keep thinking, 'Five more shifts, four more shifts, three more shifts.' And focus on the next one."

Williams scored twice in less than three minutes in the second period. His first goal came from sheer hard work, plugging away at the right post at 4:11, and his second was the result of a Slava Voynov-led rush. Williams finished it off with a one-timer at 7:08.

In fact, he easily could have had a natural hat trick.

"I think I could have had three or four goals tonight," Williams said. "I had quite a few opportunities. It's funny how the puck comes to you a little bit more often sometimes in different games. I was happy to get two, but it would have been nice to get a little bit more comfort."

Later Williams did an interview with his young daughter Jade sitting in his lap. His son, Jaxon, a preschooler, has started skating and has been a frequent visitor to the Kings' practice facility. The youngster likes to think he is an NHLer, Williams said, and even packs for trips.

Reminded of that, Williams laughed, adding: "He's packing for the next trip."

--

lisa.dillman@latimes.com

twitter.com/reallisa

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