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Cullen: Kings advance; notes on Williams, Gaborik, Selanne

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Scott Cullen
5/17/2014 2:18:33 AM
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The Los Angeles Kings overwhelmed the Anaheim Ducks in Game Seven earning a berth in the Western Conference Final; notes on Justin Williams, Marian Gaborik, John Gibson, Teemu Selanne and more.

KINGS TAKE FREEWAY SERIES

The Los Angeles Kings stormed the Anaheim Ducks early in Game Seven, building a 3-0 first-period lead on their way to a 6-2 decision, earning the Kings a rematch with the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference Final.

The Kings were led by a roster of players that have already had playoff, and Game Seven, success. None more than Kings RW Justin Williams, who scored the opening goal on the power play and added an assist; it was Williams' sixth goal in six career Game Sevens.

Joining Williams with a 6-0 career record in Game Sevens, Kings LW Marian Gaborik, who had a goal and an assist. Gaborik was a dominant performer in the series, scoring six goals and four assists in seven games. Gaborik leads the playoffs with nine goals and, since arriving in a trade from Columbus, he's put up 14 goald and 17 assists in 32 (regular season plus playoff) games.

In addition to Williams and Gaborik, the Kings got big performances from Mike Richards and Jeff Carter. Richards, also 6-0 in Game Sevens, had three points in 13 playoff games entering Friday's game and had been demoted to the fourth line, but he had a goal and an assist in the deciding game.

Richards' old Philadelphia running mate, Jeff Carter, also contributed a goal and an assist, in addition to having the Kings' best puck possession stats for the game.

A couple more Kings had multi-point games, which can happen in a 6-2 romp: C Anze Kopitar had a goal and an assist to run his playoff-leading point total to 19 points in 14 games and LW Kyle Clifford, who had one assist in his first 11 playoff games, chipped in a pair of assists in Game Seven.

As the Kings pulled away from the Ducks, they chased Ducks G John Gibson from the net, scoring four goals on 18 shots in 22:02. Gibson had stopped 88 of 93 shots in three games, giving the Ducks a chance to win the series, but the 20-year-old was overwhelmed. It wasn't that he let in terrible goals; the Ducks were getting dominated and Gibson couldn't turn back the Kings' attack.

The game marked the swan song for Ducks RW Teemu Selanne, the 43-year-old winger who ranked 11th in league history with 684 career goals.

Ducks C Ryan Getzlaf had a valiant effort in defeat, with one assist and 13 shot attempts but the Ducks were chasing the game all night. Getzlaf led the Ducks with 15 points in the playoffs, ahead of RW Corey Perry (11) and C Nick Bonino (eight).

The Ducks' season was marked by a fortunate shooting percentage, leading the league at 9.8% during 5-on-5 play, and that's the kind of thing that doesn't tend to sustain year-over-year, but the Ducks have a roster that is still poised to be competitive going forward. They have a lot of young players on the way up, including goaltenders Gibson and Frederik Andersen and defencemen Cam Fowler, Hampus Lindholm and Sami Vatanen. Many of their forwards, aside from Getzlaf and Perry, are in their early-to-mid-20s, so they may be able to improve enough to at least somewhat offset the likely statistical regression.

The Kings meeting the Blackhawks in the Western Conference Final pits the league's top two puck possession teams against each other and that ought to make for a competitive series; more competitive than last year when the Blackhawks ousted the Kings in five games.

The question is, looking ahead, will the team that manages to run the Western Conference gauntlet have anything left for the Stanley Cup Final?

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.

Williams and Gaborik celebrate (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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