Justin Williams’ Game Seven Experience Proves Vital For Kings


May 23, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Kings defenseman Slava Voynov (26) celebrates with right wing Justin Williams (14) after scoring a goal in the third period a San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton (19) reacts in game five of the second round of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Staples Center. The Kings defeated the Sharks to take a 3-2 series lead. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

It was the first game seven held at the Staples Center. It was also the first game seven for many Kings players. However, it was not Justin Williams’ first time in a game seven and it was that experience that shined through and propelled the Los Angeles Kings to a 2-1 win over the San Jose Sharks, eliminating the Sharks and advancing the Kings to the Western Conference Finals.

Game seven: there is nothing like it. The jitters, the nerves, the atmosphere, nothing about it can be matched. From the fans to the players, a final series-deciding game can be both nerve racking and exciting.

Yet only some players are lucky enough to experience everything that comes with a game seven. That experience was the talk of the town leading into the Kings and Sharks final game of the series.

Mentioned in almost every pre-game report, was one of the few areas of the game that the Kings fell short behind the Sharks: game seven experience.

"Game 7 experience matters and the Sharks have more of it. Ten of the 20 players they’re expected to dress Tuesday have combined to appear in 30 Game 7s, including the 10 for Gomez. The Kings have eight guys in the lineup that have played in a combined 16 Game 7s. – Dan Rosen NHL.com"

That was the focus, the Sharks’ experience, Scott Gomez’s nine previous game sevens and the Kings’ lack there of. The only time Kings players were mentioned, was to comment on the team’s lack of pressure-packed game seven play.

The only King continuously mentioned through out these reports was Williams. Williams is the King with the most game seven experience. This was William’s fourth career game seven, and this was his fourth career game seven win.

Expanding on his dominance in game seven play, Williams has now scored five goals, at least one in each contest, and recorded nine total points in the four game sevens through out his career.

Williams broke the scoreless tie when he swatted a puck over Antti Niemi’s pad early in the second period. Then, just under three minutes later, Williams received a pass from Anze Kopitar and fired a one-timer past Niemi to give the Kings a 2-0 lead.

Prior to tonight’s game, Williams had gone eight games without scoring a goal. Maybe game seven is just his thing?

The Sharks narrowed the lead to one early in the third period, on a point shot by Dan Boyle, but it was Williams’ two goals that proved enough to eliminate the Sharks and punch the Kings’ ticket to the Western Conference Finals for the second consecutive year.

On top of Williams’ play, Jonathan Quick continued his dominance in the crease, turning away 25 of 26 shots and winning his 13th consecutive game at Staples Center. Slava Voynov continued his offensive production and assisted, one primary, on both of the Kings’ goals.

The Kings now await  the winner of the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings series, to see who they will be playing for a spot in the Stanley Cup Finals.