The Los Angeles Kings never led over the Chicago Blackhawks during Sunday night’s game seven of the Western Conference Finals. Yet, when the dust had settled, they were heading to the Stanley Cup Finals.
One of the heroes should come as no surprise to those who follow hockey. Justin Williams set up Alec Martinez with a beautiful pass during overtime. Martinez would score the series-clinching goal; and the lore of Williams would continue to grow.
A decent player during the regular season, Justin Williams has a penchant for showing up big when it matters most. With a goal and an assist on Sunday, Williams now has seven goals and 14 points in seven career playoff game sevens, both of which are NHL records.
Perhaps more impressively, the teams on which Williams plays are 7-0 in those games. Just this year, every series the Kings have played in has gone the distance. Los Angeles has won them all, with every victory coming on the road.
The team’s latest victim was the reigning Stanley Cup champions. On goals from Brandon Saad and Jonathan Toews, the Kings fell into a 2-0 hole early, Not to be deterred, they erased that deficit; and two other Blackhawk leads, sending the game to overtime.
"We weren't going to let those kind of goals defeat us. We knew that we were going to get them back, get some dirty goals from crashing the net. That's basically how we won the game; we never gave up."
The Kings were outshot 32-41 in the contest (3 to 5 in overtime), but goaltender Jonathan Quick came up with timely saves late; and the team in front of him kept their nose to the grindstone. Pure jubilation ensued after Martinez scored; a goal made possible by hard work on the forecheck, and an end befitting the epic series.
"This series, and I can only speak for myself, was probably the most emotional seven games I've ever played," said Kings captain Dustin Brown. "One, the caliber of the two teams and also how the games were won and lost on both sides. Leads, third-period leads, leads early, leads late ... it was emotional."
What lies ahead for Los Angeles is a matchup with the New York Rangers, with only four wins separating the Kings from potentially capturing their second Stanley Cup in three seasons.