LOS ANGELES - The defending champions are still standing.
They might be sore, spent and even a bit shaken after a second-round scare from their upstate rivals, but they're still standing.
With Tuesday's 2-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks in Game 7 at Staples Center, the Los Angeles Kings cashed in on home-ice advantage and advanced to the Western Conference final, the third step in their quest to raise another Stanley Cup banner.
"We're only halfway there," said Kings winger Justin Williams. "We've won eight games out of 16. We're happy with where we're at, but certainly not satisfied."
Williams scored twice in a span of 2:57 early in the second period and netminder Jonathan Quick was outstanding ó yeah, again ó as the Kings extended their remarkable winning streak at Staples Center to 14 contests with Tuesday's triumph. The home team claimed all seven games in the all-California clash.
The Kings will now await the winner of Wednesday's Game 7 between the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings in the Windy City.