The eighth-seeded Los Angeles Kings will try to earn their first Stanley Cup Finals berth since 1993 when they host the Phoenix Coyotes today in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals.
The Kings have jumped out to a 3-0 lead in this best-of-seven series and are one win away from making just their second trip to the Cup Finals in franchise history. The 1993 team led by Wayne Gretzky made it to the final stage 19 years ago, but lost in five games to Montreal.
Los Angeles is also trying to post another four-game sweep after eliminating the second-seeded St. Louis Blues, 4-0, in the conference semifinals. The Kings had never swept a seven-game series in their history before making quick work of the Blues in the last round.
After taking Game 3 in Los Angeles by a 2-1 score, the Kings are now 11-1 this postseason and have won eight straight games since losing Game 4 against Vancouver in the opening round.
L.A. goaltender Jonathan Quick only needed to make 18 saves in Thursday's win, while Dwight King scored the game-winner in the third period.
"It's the same feeling as after the first game," said Quick. "You don't get anything for three wins. We're going to go back to work tomorrow and get ready for Game 4. We know what we have ahead of us. We know Phoenix is going to come out hard in Game 4 and we're going to be ready."
The third-seeded Coyotes, who are in the conference finals for the first time in franchise history, will need to pull off the improbable 3-0 comeback to make their first trip to the Cup Finals.
Only three teams in NHL history have won a seven-game series after losing the first three games. The Philadelphia Flyers were the last club to achieve the 3-0 comeback when they beat Boston in the 2010 Eastern Conference semifinals.
Daymond Langkow scored the lone goal for Phoenix in Game 3, while Mike Smith made 26 saves in the loss.
"It was a tight game all the way through," said Phoenix head coach Dave Tippett. "We didn't create a lot, but we hung around the game, gave ourselves a chance to win. I think we're not generating enough to put any pressure on them."
The winning goal came just 1:47 into the third when King got the puck out of a scrum in the right corner and skated out to the circle before firing a shot high over the left shoulder of Smith.
"I shot it high to the glove side," said King. "The biggest goals of my career keep getting bigger. I'm just happy to be here and I'm feeling pretty good with my game right now. I dream about this and it's working out well for our team."
Quick didn't need to do too much to preserve the lead as he had to make just four saves in the final period.
Phoenix played the game without forward Martin Hanzal, who was handed a one- game suspension for boarding Dustin Brown in Game 2. In addition to Hanzal's return, the Coyotes could also have veteran defenseman Adrian Aucoin back today. Aucoin has missed the first three games of this series with an undisclosed injury suffered in the clinching game of the last round against Nashville, but has said he is ready to go for today.
The Coyotes are 4-2 on the road in this year's playoffs, while Los Angeles is 4-1 at home.
Phoenix will host Game 5 on Tuesday if it wins today's game.
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.