Phoenix Coyotes Advance to Western Conference Finals With 2-1 Win Over Nashville Predators

It's been almost two years since Valley sports fans got the opportunity to use their favorite playoff-time refrain: Beat L.A.

It's not the Phoenix Suns this time, though. It's the Phoenix Coyotes who are slated for a series against the Los Angeles Kings.

The Coyotes defeated the Nashville Predators 2-1 last night in Glendale, advancing the Coyotes to its first Western Conference finals in franchise history.

Coyotes defenseman Derek Morris got Phoenix on the board first, burying a slapshot into the net a few minutes into the second period.

Martin Hanzal scored the other Phoenix goal, dropping one in later in the period.

While it looked like Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith was setting himself up for another playoff shutout, the Predators' Colin Wilson managed to get one past him with six minutes left in the game.

The other 32 shots from the Predators weren't so lucky.

Smith's probably been the best goaltender in the league this year, despite being snubbed as a finalist for that award, and a Predators possession in the Coyotes' zone during a power play half-way through the second period proved it yet again.

After Smith saved one shot, there was about another minute before the Predators set up a scoring chance again.

Shea Weber took a shot for the Predators, saved by Smith. Another from Weber went off the goalpost. Weber again -- saved by Smith. Andrei Kostitsyn also got a chance. Of course, it was saved by Smith. The next shot missed wide as the power play ended.

That entire sequence took around 10 seconds, with Smith making acrobatic saves left and right.

Good news for Coyotes fans came before the game as well.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was at Arena just before the game started to announce that there's a tentative deal to sell the Coyotes to former San Jose Sharks CEO Greg Jamison.

Coyotes fans have heard that word "tentative" before, but with the commissioner's appearance just before game time, it would appear to lend some credibility to the situation.

For now, though, it's about hockey.

The Kings were the eighth and final seed in the Western Conference, but it certainly won't be easy for the Coyotes.

Each team won three during the regular season, and each game seemed especially physical.

A game between the two teams in February featured three fights -- in the first period.

Those games haven't yet been scheduled, as the Washington Capitals and New York Rangers are still battling, as are the New Jersey Devils and the Philadelphia Flyers.

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley