The Kings stay the Kings.
The Los Angeles Kings reigned supreme in Anaheim with a 6-2 rout over the Ducks in Game 7 to advance to the Western Conference Final.
Los Angeles is headed to its third-straight Conference Final, which is the first time that's happened in franchise history, per ESPN Stats and Info:
Los Angeles Kings have reached 3 straight Conference Finals for the 1st time in franchise history.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 17, 2014
Before the game, Kings head coach Darryl Sutter stated that he felt playing at home in a Game 7 proved largely meaningless in terms of gaining any sort of advantage on the other team, per Jon Rosen of L.A. Kings Insider:
And, even more so, this series has shown home ice has not had a dramatic effect on the home team at all in terms of we think we played just as well in Anaheim as we have in L.A. You just don’t get the results you always want. I’ve said this a lot in the last few years with all the new buildings, because there’s not a big change in glass or boards or ice like in the old days when there were different sized surfaces, different type of boards, all those things—spare benches. Now it’s so generic that other than the crowds, it pretty much doesn’t matter where you play or who the home team is.
Sutter's words proved prophetic.
As soon as the puck dropped to start the game, the Kings smothered Anaheim. Los Angeles needed all of four minutes and 30 seconds to register its first goal.
The goal wasn't pretty, with Justin Williams finding himself in the right place at the right time. He slapped home the rebound from a Slava Voynov shot that was saved by John Gibson.
ESPN's Pierre LeBrun thought that Williams had been exuding confidence all day and was waiting for the opportunity to make his presence felt in Game 7:
Justin Williams just looked so calm this morning, you could tell he just relishes these games— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) May 17, 2014
Jeff Carter waited a little over four minutes to double the Kings' lead. He did a great job of fighting off Hampus Lindholm to get the puck and create a one-on-one opportunity with the goaltender. Drew Doughty deserves a lot of credit for dislodging the puck from Ryan Getzlaf to spark the L.A. attacking move, as you can see in the video below.
The momentum began swinging Anaheim's way shortly after Carter's goal, but only for a moment. Doughty was called for slashing on Corey Perry as Perry was bearing down on goal.
That gave the Ducks a penalty shot, which if they converted would've brought them right back into the game.
Jonathan Quick, however, poked the puck away from Perry and eliminated the threat.
In keeping with the Ducks' rotten luck on Friday night, they promptly allowed Mike Richards to score and give the Kings a 3-0 lead in the first period. MLB.com's Lyle Spencer compared how poor Anaheim's start would look in another sport:
3-0 in hockey in first period feels like a six-run first inning. #Ducks in deep trouble. Quick's save on penalty shot as big as it gets.— Lyle Spencer (@LyleMSpencer) May 17, 2014
Anze Kopitar scored a little over two minutes into the second period to boost L.A.'s lead to 4-0.
Perry had a chance for redemption with a little over 12 minutes in the second period. On a breakaway, his shot was saved, compounding what was a terrible birthday for the 29-year-old:
Corey Perry gets loose on a breakaway, and Jonathan Quick yawns while making the pad save. Worst birthday evah.— Greg Beacham (@gregbeacham) May 17, 2014
Perry's absolute nightmare of a birthday continues. Stopped by Quick on breakaway coming out of the box.— Eric Stephens (@icemancometh) May 17, 2014
Marian Gaborik scored the Kings' second power-play goal of the game with six minutes to play in the second period. NHL.com's Corey Masisak tracked Los Angeles' impressive puck movement before Gaborik eventually fired his shot home:
That last goal was Doughty to Martinez to Kopitar to Doughty to Carter to Doughty to Gaborik to Martinez to Kopitar to Gaborik. So yeah.— Cörey Masisak (@cmasisak22) May 17, 2014
It's probably better if you watch the goal.
Kyle Palmieri and then Perry scored two unanswered goals for the Ducks to give the fans in Anaheim a little bit of hope. Unfortunately for Anaheim, the mountain was too high to climb in such a short amount of time. The Ducks put some pressure on Quick, but he was up to the occasion for the rest of the game.
As Puck Daddy's Greg Wyshynski pointed out, this wasn't going to be the Sochi Olympics all over again:
If the Ducks want to get five on Quick, they better come out wearing Team Finland jerseys for the third.— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) May 17, 2014
Tanner Pearson's goal 13:54 into the third period made it a 6-2 game and all but eliminated any chance of an Anaheim comeback.
For the second year in a row, the Kings will meet the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference Final. Last year, Chicago won the series 4-1 en route to the Stanley Cup. Given how good the Blackhawks have looked so far this postseason, the next round may be the same result.
Then again, when the Kings are playing as well as they did on Friday night, they're nearly impossible to beat.
The series should continue what have been a highly enjoyable Stanley Cup Playoffs.