When the Los Angeles Kings were just five points away from a spot in the postseason, they turned to their best player in Justin Williams, who led them to the first round in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
In the second-round, the Kings needed Williams to be the focal point of a comeback against the Pittsburgh Penguins and he delivered.
But Williams was also one of the Kings worst offensive players, averaging a measly one assist per game, while shooting just .063% from the field and .056% from beyond the arc.
The Kings were lucky enough to get that off the books in the first place, but Williams’ return to form would eventually cost them the game.
After getting a few bounces in the third, Williams scored a goal with 2:21 left in the fourth period to put the Kings up 2-1 and send them back to the second round.
The Kings had lost three straight and were desperate to make a statement.
They needed a victory, and Williams was the guy who could deliver.
“The biggest thing that you need to do is make sure that you’re playing with confidence,” Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said.
“That’s how you’re going to get better.”
Williams was once again in the Kings lineup in the game against the Penguins, and he put on a clinic against the Sharks in the round’s opening frame.
He registered a pair of assists and one goal, while putting up five shots on goal in just 6:33 of ice time.
Williams got to the net twice and got to one of his best scoring chances when he took a pass from Dustin Brown and fired it home with 1:43 left.
When Williams got the chance to score again, he took advantage of a tight defensive zone and beat Sharks defenseman Matt Nieto to the puck.
With 2:41 left in regulation, Williams was called for a major for the check on the Sharks goaltender, and it was the Kings second power play of the game in the period.
They were awarded a power play goal, but it was only 3-on-2, and Kings coach Darryl Sutter wasn’t impressed.
“I think he probably was a little bit disappointed,” Sutter said.
Instead of giving Williams the goal, Sutter opted to use him in the defensive zone for the last 2:00 of the second period.
“He was a big part of the first power play,” Suttered said.
“That was a good shot and we had a lot of success with him in that.”
Williams scored the second goal of the period as he made an odd-man rush to get in on the action.
Doughty was the first to shoot on goal for the Kings, and his goal was just as important as Williams’ goal, as he beat Nieto to his second goal since the NHL changed its overtime rules in December of 2017.
Kings fans were already looking forward to seeing Williams in the playoffs for the first time since he was traded to Los Angeles from Nashville in January of 2018.
It was the best possible return the Kings could get from Williams and it gave them hope that they could get back to a playoff spot in what is likely to be a challenging stretch.