The Los Angeles Kings completed a four-game sweep of the second-seeded St. Louis Blues to return to the National Hockey League’s Western Conference finals for the first time since the Wayne Gretzky-led 1993 team.
The New Jersey Devils are one win away from reaching the Eastern Conference finals after beating the Philadelphia Flyers 4-2 last night for a three-games-to-one lead in their Eastern Conference second-round playoff series.
The Kings are the first eighth-seeded team in NHL history to defeat their conference’s top two seeds in the postseason after beating the Blues 3-1 yesterday. The victory by Los Angeles followed up a five-game, opening-round upset of the top- seeded Vancouver Canucks.
“We’re only halfway done,” said Kings right wing Dustin Brown, who scored two goals. “It’s been a grind so far and now we have a chance to not only rest physically, but maybe get a day or two to not think about it and regroup mentally.”
The Kings are the third No. 8 seed to reach the NHL’s final four since the formation of the Eastern and Western Conferences in 1994. They’ll face the Phoenix Coyotes or Nashville Predators for a spot in the Stanley Cup finals. Phoenix hosts Game 5 tonight and has a 3-1 lead in the series.
The New York Rangers host the Washington Capitals in tonight’s other game, with their Eastern Conference series tied at two games apiece.
The Kings reached the conference finals for the second time in team history as Jordan Nolan and Brown scored first-period goals last night at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Brown added an empty-net goal with 26 seconds remaining and Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick made 23 saves.
The only eighth seed to play for the Stanley Cup was the 2005-06 Edmonton Oilers, who lost in seven games to the Carolina Hurricanes.
This was the first time the Kings won a best-of-seven NHL playoff series in four games. The only other time Los Angeles had a postseason sweep was in 1976, when it won a best-of-three preliminary round matchup with the Atlanta Flames 2-0.
Kevin Shattenkirk scored the lone goal for the Blues.
The Devils erased a 2-0 first-period deficit in Newark, New Jersey, as Dainius Zubrus scored two goals and goaltender Martin Brodeur won on his 40th birthday.
“It wasn’t the way we wanted to start, but we had to bear down afterwards and we dominated the game pretty good,” Brodeur said after the Devils outshot the Flyers 43-22.
Petr Sykora and Marek Zidlicky also scored goals for the Devils, who have won three straight and can close out the series with a Game 5 victory tomorrow in Philadelphia.
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