Perhaps it's fitting that the Los Angeles Kings clinched their first trip to the Stanley Cup Finals in 19 years on the road. After all, they have been flawless away from Staples Center in these playoffs.
Dustin Penner scored with 2:18 remaining in overtime as the Kings closed out the Western Conference finals with a 4-3 Game 5 win over the Phoenix Coyotes Tuesday night at Jobing.com Arena.
Los Angeles began the extra session on a power play after Derek Morris flipped the puck over the glass, resulting in a delay-of-game penalty with 26.1 seconds left in regulation.
The Kings failed to convert, then went down a man when Drew Doughty, who registered a goal and an assist, was whistled for a questionable interference penalty at 10:54.
Phoenix had opened the scoring on a power play, but couldn't capitalize this time and finished 1-for-6 while up a skater.
Later in the frame, Penner, a Cup winner with the Anaheim Ducks in 2007, gathered a rebound of a Jeff Carter shot in the slot and fired a wrister over the glove of Mike Smith for his first career playoff overtime goal.
"It's the biggest goal of my career thus far," Penner said. "Hopefully, there's a couple more waiting in the Finals. I was at the right place at the right time."
The eighth-seeded Kings amazingly needed only 14 games to reach the title round for just the second time in franchise history -- the 1993 squad, led by Wayne Gretzky, was bested by the Montreal Canadiens.
Along the way, they dispatched the conference's top three seeds: beating the Presidents' Trophy-winning Vancouver Canucks in five games and sweeping away the No. 2 seeded St. Louis Blues in the second round before eliminating their Pacific Division rivals.
"I'm proud of the players," said Kings head coach Darryl Sutter, who led the Calgary Flames to the Cup Finals eight years ago. "That's the biggest thing for me. Hell of an accomplishment for the players."
The Kings also broke three NHL records en route to the Cup Finals. They are eight-for-eight as the visiting club, the most consecutive road playoff wins in a single postseason, and their 8-0 road record to start the playoffs is one better than the 1999 Colorado Avalanche. They've also won 10 straight road games spanning consecutive postseasons, surpassing the mark set by the New York Islanders in 1982 and '83.
Los Angeles joins the 2006 Edmonton Oilers as the only No. 8 seeds to advance to the Cup Finals. The Kings hope the similarities end there. That's because Edmonton wound up losing in seven games to the Carolina Hurricanes that year.
The Kings, who had won a franchise-record eight straight playoff games before Sunday's loss in Game 4, await either the New York Rangers or the New Jersey Devils. Those teams have split the first four games in the East finals.
The winner will host the Kings in Game 1 next Wednesday.
Mike Richards and Anze Kopitar also scored for Los Angeles, which got 38 saves from Jonathan Quick, a Conn Smythe Trophy candidate.
Smith stopped 47 shots for the Coyotes, who enjoyed their deepest postseason run in club history. They had won only two of their previous 20 series prior to this year.
"There will be some frustration for a few days," said Phoenix head coach Dave Tippett, "but ultimately I think our players should look back and feel good about a lot of the things that they accomplished this year."
Tenacious forechecking at the game's outset created a lot of time in the offensive zone for Phoenix. Radim Vrbata had a prime scoring chance early, but threw the puck over a prone Quick.
Moments later, Doughty fell down and slid back into the net, knocking it askew. Doughty was given a delay-of-game penalty and the Coyotes cashed in when a Martin Hanzal one-timer deflected off Taylor Pyatt and behind Quick 4:20 into the first period.
The Kings were then guilty of having too many men on the ice, creating a potentially disastrous situation. But Kopitar redirected Doughty's right point slap shot past Smith for a short-handed goal at 11:13 of the first.
Even though Los Angeles owned a 20-10 shot advantage in the middle stanza, the teams headed to the third period deadlocked at 3-3.
Marc-Antoine Pouliot's first career playoff goal put the Coyotes back on top at 6:23 of the second, but the Kings took a 3-2 lead with goals that came just 2:37 apart.
First, Doughty beat Smith with a shot from inside the blueline at 11:06, then Richards slammed home a rebound at 13:43.
The Coyotes pulled even when Pyatt's feed from the left-wing boards caromed in off the shin pad of Keith Yandle, who was driving hard to the net, with 3:37 left.
Los Angeles survived a two-man disadvantage early in the third. Jarret Stoll was already serving a minor for high-sticking when Matt Greene cleared the puck into the crowd from his defensive zone. The 5-on-3 was shortened, however, by Hanzal's interference penalty.
The Kings have scored five short-handed goals in the playoffs -- six on the power play...Yandle tied Dave Babych's franchise record for points by a defenseman in a single playoff year with nine...Carter had two assists.