The last time the NHL had back-t0-back Stanley Cup Champions was in 1998 when the Detroit Red Wings beat the Washington Capitals in four games. On Tuesday night, the Los Angeles Kings moved one step closer to becoming back-to-back champions as they beat the San Jose Sharks in Game 7 by a score of 2-1.
Justin Williams scored twice in the second period for the Kings and Jonathan Quick made sure that was enough. Quick turned aside 26 of the 27 shots he faced against the Sharks.
With the win, the Kings move on to the Western Conference Finals where they will either play the Chicago Blackhawks or the Red Wings. Those two teams square off in Game 7 Wednesday night. The NHL announced that the series will either start on Friday, May 31 or Saturday, June 1. The series with the Sharks was a rare series in which the home team won every game that was played.
As good as Quick was in the series, the reason the Sharks were in it was because of the play of Antti Niemi, their goaltender. Niemi gave up 14 goals in the seven games played during the series. The problem, however, was that the guys in front of him couldn’t get the job done. The Sharks’ offense was only able to get 10 goals past Quick during the series.
Now, the Kings find themselves in familiar territory, especially since they were just here a year ago. Hockey might just be the one sport that one person can dominate an entire series. The goaltender can carry a team or he can break a team depending on the shots he allows to get by him. That’s why the Kings have to feel pretty good about the Western Conference Finals. Much like last season’s postseason efforts, Quick is playing out of his mind right now and that’s not a good combination for either Detroit or Chicago starting this weekend.