The Phoenix Coyotes avoided being swept out of the National Hockey League playoffs with a 2-0 victory that ended the Los Angeles Kings’ eight-game win streak.
Shane Doan scored two goals and Mike Smith made 36 saves for the Coyotes, who now trail three-games-to-one in the best-of-seven Western Conference finals after yesterday’s road win at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
“We had nothing to lose,” Smith, who recorded his third shutout of the postseason, said at a news conference. “We had to make sure we played our best game and that would give us a chance to win. We had a huge game from Doaner and that trickled down through our lineup.”
Phoenix hosts Game 5 tomorrow. Only three NHL teams have won a best-of-seven playoff series after losing the first three games, the last being Philadelphia against Boston in the 2010 Eastern Conference semifinals.
“We recognize we’ve put ourselves in a tough position, but we also do know it has been done,” Doan said. “Nobody wants to be in the position we’re in, but everybody wants to answer that call.”
The New Jersey Devils host the New York Rangers tonight in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals. The Rangers hold a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
The Kings were denied their second trip to the Stanley Cup Final and first since 1993. Los Angeles entered the game with an 11-1 record in the playoffs and their winning streak included a sweep of the St. Louis Blues in the previous round.
Doan, who is the Coyotes’ captain and has spent his entire 16-year NHL career with the franchise, gave Phoenix a 1-0 lead on a power play 14 minutes, 19 seconds into the first period. The goal came 26 seconds after Kings right wing Justin Williams got a two-minute penalty for interfering with Smith.
Doan pushed the Coyotes’ lead to 2-0 at the 11:10 mark of the second period, beating Los Angeles goaltender Jonathan Quick with a 42-foot snap shot for his fifth goal of the postseason. Quick had limited Phoenix to one goal in the previous two games.
The Kings get another chance to return to the Stanley Cup Final tomorrow in Phoenix, where they will try to improve on their 7-0 road playoff record.
“Two ways to look at it: they’re either due to lose or we got to find a way to stop them,” Doan said. “Law of averages says you’re going to lose eventually on the road.”