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Cullen: Kings' Quick, Williams make the difference in Game 7

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Scott Cullen
5/29/2013 1:11:54 AM
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Jonathan Quick stopped 25 of 26 shots faced, Justin Williams scored a pair of goals three minutes apart in the second period and that was enough for the Los Angeles Kings to take Game Seven against the San Jose Sharks by a 2-1 score.

The Kings will face the winner of Wednesday's Detroit-Chicago Game Seven in the Western Conference Final.

Quick has risen to the challenge in the postseason, just as he did last year when he won the Conn Smythe Trophy. In fact, Quick's .948 save percentage in this year's playoffs is even better than the .946 save percentage he posted in last year's Cup run. The difference, though, is that Quick was a Vezina finalist last year and this year, his .902 save percentage in the regular season was the worst of his career.

It's also been imperative for Los Angeles that Quick play at such a high level because the Kings have managed a playoff-low 24.8 shots per game and are being outshot by 4.6 shots per game. Without superior goaltending, they're not getting through.

Williams picked a fine time to break out of his slump. In his last seven games, Williams had no goals, one assist and 11 shots on goal, but then came up big when the series was on the line. Not only did he score a pair of goals, but Williams had a team-leading five shots on goal while playing 19:53, his second-highest total of the postseason.

Kings D Slava Voynov assisted on both of Williams' goals in Game Seven, and finished the series with five points, tying Jeff Carter and Mike Richards for the team lead.

San Jose's only goal of Game Seven was scored by D Dan Boyle, and set up by RW Joe Pavelski, giving both four points in the series, tying Joe Thornton for the Sharks' team lead. Brent Burns, who had been such a force as a power forward in the second half of the season, managed just one goal (on 19 shots) and no assists through the seven game series.

What was somewhat puzzling about San Jose's plan for Game Seven was the amount of ice time allocated for fourth liners. Bracken Kearns played a playoff-high 9:32, Adam Burish and Andrew Desjardins played 10-minutes-plus, yet Joe Thornton played 19:36 in a game in which the Sharks trailed for more than half the contest. Thornton's line struggled possession-wise, but with the Sharks trying to mount a comeback, who wouldn't prefer to have Thornton on the ice for an extra couple of minutes?

In any case, the Sharks acquitted themselves well. Even if he was outdueled by Quick, G Antti Niemi finished the playoffs with a .930 save percentage and there is a subtle changing of the guard taking place, as Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski emerge into more prominent roles, necessitated by Thornton and Patrick Marleau getting older.

But now, the Kings continue their title defence against either Detroit or Chicago. No matter who gets through, the Kings are going to have a real shot at repeating if Jonathan Quick is going to remain the hottest goaltender on the planet.

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.

Jonathan Quick  (Photo: Harry How/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Harry How/Getty Images)
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