ANAHEIM, Calif.--Toughness and resiliency are the code words that define the Los Angeles Kings.
A new, unexpected one in a winner-take-all Game 7 against the Anaheim Ducks was added into their playoff lexicon.
The first-ever postseason series between Southern California's two NHL franchises seemed set on a dramatic finale to end a back-and-forth Western Conference semifinal. The Kings did away with that by running roughshod over the Ducks in a 6-2 annihilation Friday night.
The team that no one can easily get rid of put on its work boots and stomped on a rival that set all sorts of regular-season records but came up small in the biggest of games for the second straight postseason.
The Kings became the fourth NHL team to erase a 3-0 deficit and win a series, rallying past San Jose in the first round. They extended their record in elimination games to 6-0 this postseason by erasing a 3-2 series deficit against the Ducks.
"It's in this room," Kings center Anze Kopitar said. "We don't look outside too much. We believe in this room and that's the most important thing, trusting each other. When you throw a little urgency on top of it, we're playing pretty good hockey."
Kopitar, the top scorer in these playoffs with 19 points, simply said his team knew Game 7 had to be their best of the series after uneven efforts through the first five games. The Kings delivered a meat-and-potatoes effort to win Game 6 and then spent Friday dining on the shell-shocked Ducks.
Justin Williams opened an overwhelming 20 minutes with his sixth career Game 7 goal and then Jeff Carter and Mike Richards followed with scores to put a major dent in the Ducks and rookie goalie John Gibson.
Kopitar chased Gibson with a goal two minutes into the second and that was essentially that. Gibson allowed four goals on 18 shots and was replaced by Jonas Hiller.
"One of our goals was coming out hard in first period," Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said. "We even said before the game, 'Everyone is talking about this Gibson, let's see Hiller tonight.' We managed to do that and that was one of our goals."
Said captain Dustin Brown: "It wasn't just one guy tonight. All four lines contributed and I thought we did a good job of keeping our foot on the gas pedal."
Nothing the Ducks tried worked, with Corey Perry's first-period penalty shot that could have given them life calmly batted away by Kings goalie Jonathan Quick. Quick made 25 saves in a game that was long decided.
"The first period was like men against boys, quite frankly," Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said. "They were bigger, stronger, faster, seemed more determined.
"We were on our heels. Everything that we said that we wanted not to do, we did."
Consecutive goals by Kyle Palmieri and Perry were inconsequential with the Ducks down five goals. Marian Gaborik and Tanner Pearson added icing on a Stanley Cup cake the Kings would love to devour.
It is on to Chicago for Game 1 of the Western Conference final as they'll try to avenge a five-game loss that ended the defense of their 2012 title. Now the Kings would like to dethrone the 2013 champion Blackhawks.
"It's going to be a tough matchup," Doughty said. "Chicago is a very, very good team, as everyone knows. We're a very good team, too. We know the things and reasons why we lost last year, so we need to fix those things."
The loss will likely be the final NHL game for Ducks icon Teemu Selanne, who hoped for a party and found utter disappointment.
"It's a tough feeling," Selanne said. "You want to go further. We all felt we had a chance to go to the next round and maybe all the way. It's going to be tough waking up tomorrow morning and realizing it's all over."
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