Western Conference finals
Kings 4, Phoenix Coyotes 3 (OT)
(Kings win the series, 4-1)
Eight keys to the game:
THE FACTS: In the blink of an eye, the Los Angeles Kings ended 19 years of frustration Tuesday night. Dustin Penner’s overtime goal off a long rebound at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale, Ariz. finished off the Phoenix Coyotes and sent the eighth-seeded Kings to their second Stanley Cup final in franchise history.
THE STAT: The Kings are just the second eighth-seeded team to advance to the Stanley Cup finals in NHL history, beating the top three seeds in the West along the way.
TURNING POINT: Just as the Coyotes were getting whistled for off sides, Kings captain Dustin Brown laid a powerful hip check on Phoenix defenseman Michal Rozsival, leaving him sprawled on the ice. Several Phoenix players swarmed around Brown and let him know they weren’t happy with the hit. After Rozsival was helped to the bench with his left leg dangling, Mike Richards won a neutral zone face off. The puck went back to Kings defenseman Slava Voynov, who quickly passed it ahead. Phoenix defenseman Keith Yandle got to it first, but Penner blocked his clearing pass. Penner retrieved the puck, left it for teammate Jeff Carter, who took a blast at Phoenix goalie Mike Smith. The puck hit Smith in the chest and shot back into the slot. Richards had the first whack as he raced toward the crease but missed. Penner came in from behind after the puck settled and shot it past the partially screened Smith with 2:18 left in the overtime.
HOT: The post-game handshake wasn’t as gentlemanly as most. The Coyotes were still heated over Brown’s hit on Rozsival and a few let Brown know they didn’t appreciate the play. The most animated Phoenix player was center Martin Hanzal, who must have forgot he was suspended for Game 3’s loss after a dangerous boarding penalty on Brown in Game 2.
NOT: It was a tough overtime period overall for the officials. They missed a delay of game penalty on Voynov when he flicked the puck over the glass, thinking an icing penalty had just been called on Phoenix. They then called an interference penalty on Drew Doughty midway through the overtime period when it was pretty clear Doughty had inside position on the Phoenix player as they scampered after the puck. After the Kings killed the penalty, they were called for offsides when Doughty appeared to trap the puck on the blue line, eliminating an odd-man rush.
GOOD MOVE: Richards and Penner combined on the third goal for the Kings, giving them a brief 3-2 lead with 6:17 left in the second period. Penner had the puck on a 2-on-1 rush and shot it off Smith’s pads, leaving a plumb rebound for Richards to knock into the net.
BAD MOVE: Less than three minutes after taking the 3-2 lead, Taylor Pyatt sent a cross-ice pass toward Yandle, who was charging toward the crease with Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi on his hip. For some reason, Scuderi tried to use his right skate to thwart the pass, rather than his stick, and the puck was deflected about 12 inches into the air, hitting Yandle’s shin pads and getting redirected into the far side of the net.
NOTABLE: By reaching the Stanley Cup in 14 games, the Kings tied seven other NHL teams for the quickest route to the finals. The Kings have also won 10 consecutive playoff games on the road dating to last season, another NHL record. They’re also the first team to win eight straight playoff games in a single year. The Kings scored their fifth shorthanded goal of the postseason in the opening period, becoming the first team with five shorthanders in the playoffs since the Detroit Red Wings had six in 2008. Brown has five short-handed points in these playoffs, the first to have that many since Henrik Zetterberg of the Red Wings in 2008.
UP NEXT: Game 1 at the New York Rangers or New Jersey Devils, May 30.