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Kings to play Coyotes in Western Conference finals

May 07, 2012|By Helene Elliott

Two Pacific division teams with bleak playoff histories will meet for the Western Conference championship.

The Kings, who earned their berth in the final four on Sunday with a sweep of the St. Louis Blues, will face the Phoenix Coyotes, who finished off a five-game elimination of the Nashville Predators on Monday with a 2-1 victory at Glendale, Ariz.

The Coyotes, who ended a 25-year, two-city playoff drought when they ousted the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round, advanced Monday on the strength of a 32-save performance by goaltender Mike Smith. Their offense consisted of second-period goals by defenseman Derek Morris and center Martin Hanzal.

They had never before reached the conference final. The Kings have gotten to the third round only once, in 1993, before losing to Montreal in the Stanley Cup finals.

The Coyotes' triumph Monday came a few hours after the NHL, which has operated the team for three years, announced it has "an understanding" with a group led by hockey executive Greg Jamison to buy the franchise. Jamison is the former chief executive officer of the San Jose Sharks. His group must formalize its purchase agreement with the NHL, get approval from the league's board of governors and negotiate a lease agreement with the city of Glendale for Jobing.com Arena.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman told reporters in Glendale he was hopeful the timeline for the sale to be completed "can be counted in weeks as opposed to months."

The Kings and Coyotes played a close season series, which the Kings won, 3-1-2. Three of their games went beyond regulation time. Kings goalie Jonathan Quick had two shutouts and Smith recorded one.

Earlier Monday, Kings forward Dustin Brown said he hoped to face Phoenix in the next round.

"I think it’s pretty obvious that Phoenix would definitely be the better team from a travel standpoint, being an hour flight or less there and back. That's the only obvious advantage to Phoenix," he said.

"At the end of the day, whether we play Phoenix or Nashville, whatever team we end up playing, they're there for a reason. I think matchups kind of go out the window at this time of year. It's more about who's willing to do more."

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