Big-game Williams does it again


LOS ANGELES -- There was Justin Williams, shepherding his two kids through a crowded Los Angeles Kings dressing room Wednesday night when his 5-year-old son had an announcement to make.

"Daddy, I'm going to New York," said Jaxon Williams, mini hockey stick in hand, to his Game 1-hero father.

"Oh, you are, are you?" Daddy said with a smile.

Hey, you can't blame the kid. Who wants to miss Justin Williams play on this stage? The bigger the game, the more the 32-year-old native of Cobourg, Ontario, comes to play.

Just like Wednesday night, staring down Henrik Lundqvist mano-a-mano in overtime, beating the New York Rangers superstar with a perfect, sizzling wrist shot high on the blocker side.

Who else indeed but Williams to score to give the Kings a 3-2 OT win in the Stanley Cup opener?

"You know all about him. He's a special player," said Kings teammate Kyle Clifford. "With this group, we've always known he's Captain Clutch. It's special to share a locker room with him."

Added coach Darryl Sutter: "He's our best right winger every night, consistently."

Williams also assisted on Drew Doughty's tying goal in the second period, giving him 20 points (8-12) in 22 playoff games. On a team full of star players, Williams finds a way to stand out as well.

"I've said this many times -- Justin is the most underrated player on our team, by a mile," Doughty said. "He doesn't get enough credit for what he does. There's two guys on this team that I want to give the puck to, and that's him and [ Anze Kopitar]. When they have the puck, plays happen. As a defenseman, you love to watch, and that gives up opportunities to jump in offensively, too. At the same time, he works very, very hard at both ends of the ice and shows a lot of leadership."

The only confusing part Wednesday night is that this was Game 1, not Game 7. Williams, of course, owns Game 7, going 7-0 in his career in seventh games while piling up seven goals and seven assists.

"I'd like to call him Mr. Game 1, 2, 3 and 4," said Kings blueliner Willie Mitchell. "It takes four wins. If he can do that three more times, that would be really nice."

Believe it or not, it was actually the first OT goal in Williams' career. That's about the only thing was that missing on a résumé sparkling with clutch playoff moments.

"Justin always seems to find a way for us and rises to the challenge," said Mitchell. "It's a belief. We've got a lot of depth up front and a lot of guys that can put pucks in the back of the net."

And that's just it about these Los Angeles Kings: They can score at will, it seems, to the tune of 3.46 goals per game in these playoffs, tops in the NHL. These are not your 2012 Kings who made the 2-1 victory a staple of their championship journey. No, these guys have more punch, even panache. With the emergence of youngsters Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson up front, the development of Jake Muzzin and Alec Martinez on the back end, plus studs Anze Kopitar and Doughty somehow becoming even better overall players since 2012, well, you've got yourself a team that threatens to score on every shift.

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