The eighth-seeded Los Angeles Kings will try to move a step closer to winning their first Western Conference title in 19 years when they host the Phoenix Coyotes tonight in Game 3 at Staples Center.
Los Angeles has taken a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference finals, posting a pair of impressive wins in Phoenix to begin this series. After earning a 4-0 win in Tuesday's Game 2 in the desert, the eighth-seeded Kings are now 10-1 this postseason and a perfect 7-0 on the road.
The Game 2 victory allowed L.A. to tie the 2010 Chicago Blackhawks' NHL record for consecutive road wins in a single postseason. Overall, Los Angeles has won nine straight road playoff games, matching the 1982-83 New York Islanders for the NHL record for consecutive road playoff wins spanning over more than one season.
The Kings are 3-1 on home ice in these playoffs and haven't lost since dropping Game 4 of the opening round to the visiting Vancouver Canucks. That 3-1 setback to the top-seeded Canucks marked the only time this postseason that Los Angeles goaltender Jonathan Quick surrendered more than two goals.
Los Angeles beat the Canucks in five games and then swept second-seeded St. Louis in the second round to qualify for the conference finals for the first time since 1993, when Wayne Gretzky led the Kings to their one and only Stanley Cup Finals appearance.
Quick stopped 24 shots for his second shutout of the 2012 playoffs in Tuesday's rout of the Coyotes, but Jeff Carter stole the show by recording his first career playoff hat trick. Carter's hat trick was the first in the playoffs for the Kings since Gretzky accomplished the feat on May 29, 1993.
Dwight King also scored for the Kings, who have outshot Phoenix by a whopping 88-51 margin over the first two games of this series.
Mike Smith allowed all four goals on 40 shots for the Coyotes, who are in the conference final round for the first time in franchise history.
"Obviously being down 2-0 was not the results we were looking for at home. So we need to regroup tomorrow and go in there and try to steal a game on the road," Phoenix head coach Dave Tippett said.
The Coyotes are 4-1 on the road in this year's playoffs and will try to get back in this series in Los Angeles. Game 4 is scheduled for Sunday afternoon at the Staples Center.
In addition to losing Game 2, Coyotes forward Martin Hanzal also was dealt a one-game suspension for boarding Los Angeles captain Dustin Brown in the third period of Tuesday's game. At the 11:01 mark of the final period, Hanzal drilled Brown hard into the boards from behind, resulting in Phoenix's second major penalty of the contest and a game misconduct. Hanzal has three goals and two assists this postseason.
While Hanzal received a ban from the league, Coyotes captain Shane Doan avoided a suspension for boarding Kings forward Trevor Lewis in the second period. NHL senior vice president of player safety Brendan Shanahan revealed his reason for not suspending Doan yesterday on his Twitter account, stating that "Lewis turns just prior to the check." Doan is considered a repeat offender who was suspended three games this season for elbowing Dallas forward Jamie Benn in the head.
This matchup marks the first time the Kings and Coyotes are meeting in the postseason, but the Pacific rivals did face each other six times during the 2011-12 campaign. The Kings and Coyotes split the season series and three of the meetings went past regulation.