ANAHEIM, Calif. — Sitting in another jubilant dressing room deep inside another dazed road arena, Anze Kopitar simply stopped trying to explain the Los Angeles Kings’ big-game brilliance.
In nearly every tight playoff spot over the past three years, his Kings have emerged and advanced — even when they end the career of hockey icon Teemu Selanne along the way.
Kopitar knows the Kings’ tenacity can’t be easily defined, and it’s almost impossible to capture. But it has taken them all the way back to the Western Conference finals after they finished off the rival Anaheim Ducks in grand style, 6-2 in Game 7 on Friday night.
“It’s hard to say what it is, but it’s all in this room,” said Kopitar, the Kings’ leading scorer. “We don’t look outside too much. We believe in this room. We knew this would have to be our best game of the series, and it was.”
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Justin Williams, Jeff Carter and Mike Richards scored in an overwhelming first period. The Kings advanced to their third straight conference finals by improving to a jaw-dropping 6-0 when facing elimination this spring. Los Angeles has won two seven-game series as it heads to Chicago for Game 1 on Sunday.
Kopitar, Marian Gaborik and Tanner Pearson also scored, and Jonathan Quick made 25 saves to help the Kings claim the first postseason Freeway Faceoff series with back-to-back wins over their top-seeded Southern California rivals.
“We’re built for the playoffs, for sure,” Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said. “We struggled during the regular season. I don’t know the reason why, but we’re always ready for when it really counts.”
The Kings added to their 7-1 record in elimination games over the past two years, showing the remarkable poise that has led to eight playoff series victories in three seasons. They earned a rematch with the Blackhawks, who ousted them in five games last spring.
The 2012 Stanley Cup champions led 5-0 late in the second period in Anaheim, never allowing the Ducks to get going in their own building. Los Angeles shredded rookie goalie John Gibson for four goals in the first 22:02.
Kings fans’ chants of “This is our house!” echoed through Honda Center, where the Ducks were one of the NHL’s best home teams during the best regular season in franchise history.
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