Los Angeles Kings Continue Cup Defense With Game 7 Victory Over San Jose

2013 NHL Playoffs
2013 NHL Playoffs
May 28 2013 Los Angeles CA USA Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar 11 right wing Justin Williams 14 and defenseman Slava Voynov 26 celebrate a goal in the second period of game seven of the second round of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the San Jose Sharks at the Staples Center Jayne Kamin Oncea USA TODAY Sports

The L.A. Kings certainly aren’t suffering from the dreaded Stanley Cup hangover. Last night they maintained their undefeated postseason record on home ice and knocked out the San Jose Sharks with a 2-1 Game 7 victory. The defending champions, who have been unbeatable at the Staples Center, will now await the winner of tonight’s decisive clash between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Detroit Red Wings.

Keeping form with the rest of the series, Game 7 was a low scoring affair with goaltending and home ice advantage providing the difference. Though they managed to win all three games at the HP Pavilion, the San Jose Sharks once again find themselves hitting the golf course earlier than they hoped.

A cagey first period included a combined total of just eight shots on goal, with Jonathan Quick and Antti Niemi turning each of them away. Things would open up after the first intermission.

Four minutes into the second period, Kings winger Justin Williams picked up a fortunate bounce off the end wall and banged away at the puck until it finally snuck between the post and the pad of the frantic Niemi. Williams would double his winnings a few minutes later on the powerplay. Slava Voynov entered the offensive zone on the rush, dropped the puck back to Anze Kopitar in the high slot and Kopitar set Williams to the left of the net for a one-timer, making it 2-0.

Always the bridesmaid and never the bride, the San Jose Sharks found themselves in a familiar position with the third period looming. Always tipped for big things, the Sharks can never seem to get over the hump, but all hope was not yet lost.

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Try as they might, the post-game handshake was deja vu for Todd McLellan‘s gang. Dan Boyle‘s slapshot blast early in the third gave the Sharks hope as it cut the lead in half, but Jonathan Quick would not be beaten again.

The Sharks outshot their opponents 14-4 in the final frame, but the equalizer proved elusive. A slumping Joe Pavelski wasted a marvelous chance with just a few minutes remaining, as he hesitated just long enough while facing an open net for Jonathan Quick to get a glove to the puck.

Defending Conn Smythe Trophy winner Jonathan Quick looks set to challenge for the coveted award once again after allowing just 10 goals in the seven game series, posting two shutouts. Antti Niemi was reliable in net for San Jose but his teammates failed to provide the kind of goal support required to reach the next round.

Five teams remain alive in the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and perhaps it is no coincidence that those teams are the last five Stanley Cup champions. If the Chicago Blackhawks defeat the Detroit Red Wings in tonight’s Game 7, the last four teams to hoist the Cup will duke it out for this year’s title.

The startling trend suggests that championship experience is a major advantage, especially in a long series. The Kings look set to contend for the next few years but it remains to be seen whether they can become the first team since the 1998 Red Wings to successfully defend hockey’s holy grail. To do so they will have to go through two worthy and battle-tested opponents.

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Chris Blanchard
Chris Blanchard is a Boston, MA native and a student at Davidson College. He began writing about hockey as a Boston Bruins featured columnist for Bleacher Report in the fall of 2012. He has been covering the NHL for XN Sports since May of 2013. !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src=p+'://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js';fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document, 'script', 'twitter-wjs');