Saturday, 17 May 2014

LA Kings beat Ducks, into NHL west finals

Los Angeles continued their remarkable run of crunch wins in this post-season by beating Anaheim 6-2 in Friday's decisive game seven, 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 neighbours and 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 champions Chicago, with the Blackhawks to host the opener on Sunday.

The Kings took charge early and led 5-0 late in the second periof, never allowing the Ducks to get close on their own ice.

Los Angeles had stellar performances from their best big-game players. Quick improved to 3-0 in game sevens in his career, while Williams kicked off Los Angeles' first-period onslaught with his sixth goal in six career trips to to a seventh game. Williams also has six assists in those deciding matches.

Gaborik scored six goals in the series' four games in Anaheim, giving him a NHL-best nine goals in his first post-season with the Kings. Gaborik, Williams and Richards are unbeaten in six career trips to game seven, 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 twice benched by coach Bruce Boudreau in the season's final weeks.

Gibson didn't deserve all the blame behind a team that made numerous mistakes.

Corey Perry scored early in the third period, but also missed a penalty shot and was 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 in 12 playoff games this spring.

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