Los Angeles Kings beat Anaheim Ducks 6-2 to advance to West finals
AP May 18, 2014, 12:10 am TWN
ANAHEIM, California--Los Angeles continued its remarkable run of crunch wins in this postseason by beating Anaheim 6-2 in Friday's decisive Game 7, advancing to the NHL Western Conference finals for the third-straight year.
The Kings improved to a 6-0 record in games where a loss meant elimination from this season's playoffs.
Justin Williams, Jeff Carter and Mike Richards scored in a first period which laid the foundation for a comfortable win over their neighbors and chief rivals.
Anze Kopitar, Marian Gaborik and Tanner Pearson also scored, and Jonathan Quick made 25 saves for LA, who came from 3-0 down in the first round of the playoffs against San Jose and backed that up by winning the final two games of this series.
Next up is a West decider against reigning Stanley Cup champion Chicago, with the Blackhawks to host the opener on Sunday.
The Kings took charge in the first period and led 5-0 late in the second, never allowing the Ducks to get close on their own ice.
Los Angeles got stellar performances from its best big-game players. Quick improved to 3-0 in Game 7s in his career, while Williams kicked off Los Angeles' first-period onslaught with his sixth goal in six career trips to Game 7. Williams also has six assists in those deciding games.
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.
Anaheim's 20-year-old goaltender John Gibson yielded four goals from just 18 shots before getting replaced early in the second period by Jonas Hiller, the dependable veteran who was twice benched by coach Bruce Boudreau in the season's final weeks.
Gibson didn't deserve all the blame behind a team that made innumerable mistakes in its biggest game of the season.
Corey Perry scored early in the third period, but also missed a penalty shot and got denied on a second-period breakaway. Kyle Palmieri scored late in the second period after Anaheim already trailed by five goals.
The result was a bitter farewell for Teemu Selanne, whose 21-season NHL career began in Winnipeg in 1992 and included parts of 15 seasons in Anaheim. The Finnish Flash scored 684 regular-season goals, but had just two goals in 12 playoff games this spring.
Game 7 also might have been a finale for Saku Koivu, although the 39-year-old Finnish center has not decided whether he will retire after 18 NHL seasons.
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