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2012 NHL Playoffs: Kings To Face Coyotes In Conference Finals After Phoenix Eliminates Nashville

Before the 2012 NHL playoffs, the Los Angeles Kings had only held a 2-0 series lead two times in their 43-year franchise history. This year, they have had a pair of 3-0 series leads and are 8-1 in the postseason. In the Western Conference Finals they will face a team with even less playoff success in its franchise history. The Phoenix Coyotes advanced to their first conference finals Monday night with a 2-1 home win in Game 5 over the Nashville Predators.

The Coyotes eliminated the Predators, four games to one. Phoenix, who won their first division title during the regular season, advanced to the conference finals for the first time in their 32-year franchise history, which began in Winnipeg.

The Kings are in their second Western Conference Finals in franchise history, and the first since 1993.

Derek Smith scored at 3:54 of the second period to give Phoenix a 1-0 lead Monday night and Martin Hanzal struck with a goal 11 minutes later for a 2-0 Coyotes lead. Colin Wilson scored for Nashville with 5:59 remaining in the third period, but were never able to score the equalizer.

Mike Smith saved 32 of 33 shots in the win for the Coyotes, who are 8-3 in the postseason.

The Kings were 3-1-2 against their Pacific Division rivals during the regular season. Los Angeles, which has knocked off the No. 1 seed Vancouver Canucks and No. 2 seed St. Louis Blues in the first two rounds, now get their shot at No. 3 seed Phoenix.

For more news and notes on the Kings or this second round NHL playoff series, be sure to read Jewels From The Crown.

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