Throughout the remainder of the month, LAKI will be reviewing the top 10 moments of the Los Angeles Kings season as a recurring feature entitled “I Was There.”
KingsCast recently finished a similar endeavor, complete with screen grabs, video highlights and commentary. Alex Kinkopf’s #TopTen list is recommended as a great account of the 2012-13 season.
I Was There #4: Williams in seven
Was there nervous energy where you were when you sat down to watch Game 7 of the Western Conference Semifinals? There certainly was in downtown Los Angeles when the Kings hosted their very first Game 7 at Staples Center and their first Game 7 at home since eliminating Edmonton at The Forum in 1989 after emerging from a 3-1 series deficit.
That energy was ratcheted up a notch following a first period that saw both the Kings and Sharks play to avoid the types of mistakes that could have major impacts in a tight series in which every game had been won by the team that had scored first.
Going into the game, the word on the street was that it would be a good thing to have Justin Williams on your side in a Game 7. He had won all three of his previous Game 7s, including the final game of the 2006-07 season in which he punctuated Carolina’s Stanley Cup-clinching game with an empty net goal. In those three games he had recorded three goals and four assists.
He scored twice on May 28. The first goal was greasy:
His second goal came on his very next shift, moments after Patrick Marleau’s Grade-A wraparound was denied by Jonathan Quick:
Aesthetic beauty: The first goal “wasn’t a Picasso,” to quote Cory Schneider. For the second goal, it was very high. San Jose was in the middle of a line change that led to a Los Angeles four-on-two, allowing Slava Voynov to drop a pass between his legs to Anze Kopitar, who found Williams in the middle of the left circle. Williams controlled the puck and fired a low shot that threaded the needle between Antti Niemi’s right skate and the near post. How many inches did Niemi give Williams there? Four? Five? Stick found them.
Lasting impact: Extremely high. Los Angeles hadn’t won a Game 7 in 20 years. Jonathan Quick – continuing the trend of Kings playoff hockey – was called upon throughout the game to maintain the lead, and his save on Joe Pavelski late in the third period was also among the season’s highlights. But the impact left from this critical game was that Justin Williams supplied the margin of victory needed to defeat an in-state and divisional rival in reaching the Western Conference Final for the second consecutive season.
Previously on “I Was There”
#10: Toffoli’s first goal
#9: Quick passes Hrudey
#8: Kopitar’s goal versus Detroit
#7: Game 4 comeback over St. Louis
#6: Slava’s overtime game-winner
#5: Banner raising ceremony