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Williams comes up big again for Kings

by Curtis Zupke

LOS ANGELES -- One of the stories that came out of the Los Angeles Kings' 2012 Stanley Cup run was an inspirational speech by Justin Williams before the Cup-clinching win in Game 6. Teammates won't divulge details but have suggested Williams touched on not letting the moment slip away.

Thursday, Williams again stepped up for the Kings.

Justin Williams
Right Wing - LAK
GOALS: 2 | ASST: 0 | PTS: 2
SOG: 7 | +/-: 1
Williams scored two goals in the second period to help Los Angeles beat the San Jose Sharks 6-3 at Staples Center and avoid a sweep. Game 5 of the Western Conference First Round series is Saturday at SAP Center (10 p.m. ET; CBC, CNBC, RDS2, FS-W, CSN-CA).

"He's one of those players, he's done it throughout his career," captain Dustin Brown said. "Certain guys have that ability to, not necessarily raise their game, but score big goals at big times, and he's one of those guys, especially this time of year."

Williams was the hero of Game 7 in last season's conference semifinal series against San Jose. He scored both goals in a span of 2:57 in a 2-1 win that advanced Los Angeles to the conference final. Williams also had the game-winning goal in Game 4 last spring in the conference quarterfinals against the St. Louis Blues.

On Thursday, Williams put the Kings ahead for good at 3-2 when he batted in a puck out of midair after a shot by Willie Mitchell bounced off the glass. Earlier in the period, Williams wristed a shot from the right circle that got through the pads of Sharks goalie Antti Niemi.

That goal snapped Williams' eight-game goal-scoring drought.

"It felt great," he said. "You know your role, and you know you need to help the team score, and when you do that it's satisfying. It gives you a little jump start."

Williams had played on the top line with Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik, but Kings coach Darryl Sutter put Brown in Williams' place to counter San Jose's Joe Thornton and Brent Burns with size. Williams' two goals came on three shots while playing mostly with Dwight King and Jarret Stoll.

Sutter, in his postgame media conference, initially was asked about Brown and changed the subject.

"I think it's just as important that Justin got his game on, too," Sutter said.

"He's played a lot of playoff games, so he's used to it. He's played in big games. He's a guy that usually does respond."

Williams was one of many Kings who responded physically to San Jose; he fought Sharks defenseman Justin Braun in the final seconds, earning a fighting major, and was technically an assist shy of the Gordie Howe Hat Trick.

"I think [when] you keep playing a team, you keep playing a team, bad blood is going to result from it," Williams said. "Rivalries start, and we want to make this a series. That's just what spilled over late in the game."

Williams didn't really care to talk about his knack for the postseason. The Kings talked about piecing together one win, one shift at a time, and Game 4 was the first step. They will need to lean on veterans like Williams to extend the series further.

"It's 3-1," Williams said. "It's not anything to write home about. We're certainly happy we got a win. But we feel we have a long road to go. We need to take another step in San Jose. It's going to be a tough one."

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