NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Tuesday, May 22nd (All times Eastern)
(8) Los Angeles Kings (3-1) at (3) Phoenix Coyotes (1-3), 9 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Los Angeles Kings will get a second shoot at earning their first Stanley Cup Finals berth since 1993 when they visit the Phoenix Coyotes tonight for Game 5 of the Western Conference finals.
The eighth-seeded Kings jumped out to a 3-0 lead in this best-of-seven series before losing Sunday's home contest by a 2-0 score. It was just the second loss for Los Angeles in 13 playoff games this postseason and both setbacks have come on the road,
L.A. enters tonight's road contest with a perfect 7-0 record as the guest in this spring's playoffs. The Kings hope to ride that road success to a win in Game 5, which would secure the club's first Stanley Cup Finals appearance since Wayne Gretzky led the franchise to the last stage in 1993. Los Angeles lost in five games to Montreal in the Kings' only trip to the Cup Finals.
The 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 win this series. Only three teams in NHL history have won a seven-game series after losing the first three games and the Philadelphia Flyers were the last club to achieve the comeback when they beat Boston in the 2010 Eastern Conference semifinals.
However, the third-seeded Coyotes still have a pulse thanks in large part to the performance of goaltender Mike Smith in Sunday's Game 4 at the Staples Center. Smith posted his third shutout of the postseason, turning aside 36 shots to help anchor Phoenix in the 2-0 win.
Shane Doan scored both goals for Phoenix and the Coyotes captain had plenty of good things to say about his goaltender.
"You know what, it's funny, every game, when we need a big game from Smith, he's been absolutely amazing," Doan said. "At the end of every game, always kind of remind him about how unbelievable he is when we need a big game."
Smith stopped 10 shots in the first period and 13 in both the second and third stanzas. He also helped kill off all six of L.A.'s power-play opportunities in Game 3. Phoenix has yet to allow a power-play goal on the road this postseason (27-for-27 killing penalties).
"I thought we competed a lot harder and won a lot more battles," said Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett. "When you do those things, you give yourself a better chance to win."
Jonathan Quick stopped 19 shots for the Kings, who suffered their first loss since April 18th against the visiting Vancouver Canucks in Game 4 of the Western Conference quarterfinals.
The Kings have tied an NHL record with seven consecutive wins away from LA. and their 7-0 road ledger to start the playoffs ties another NHL mark set by the 1999 Colorado Avalanche. Additionally, they've won nine straight on the road dating back to last spring and that matches a league mark for the most road wins spanning consecutive postseasons held by the New York Islanders (1982-83).
"We are still in a good position; that's why we have to hit the reset button, refocus, and make sure we have a lot of energy for Tuesday," said Kings forward Anze Kopitar, who had his point streak snapped at six games.
Sunday's loss dropped the Kings to 10-8 all-time with the chance to clinch a series.
The Coyotes are 4-4 as the host in this year's playoffs. If they win tonight, Game 6 of this series will take place Thursday evening in Los Angeles.
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.
05/22 10:34:54 ET