For the first time in 19 years, the Los Angeles Kings will participate in the Western Conference Finals. All they need now is an opponent.
The Kings became the first team to eliminate the top two seeds in a conference (since the NHL adopted the format in 1993-94) when they earned a 3-1 victory against the St. Louis Blues at the Staples Center on Sunday afternoon. Los Angeles also becomes just the third No. 8 seed to advance to the conference finals.
So, who's up next? The Kings could find out as early as Monday night, when the Phoenix Coyotes and Nashville Predators resume their series at Jobing.com Arena. The Coyotes took a 3-1 series lead with Friday night's 1-0 victory at Bridgestone Arena. Should Nashville stave off elimination Monday, Game 6 would be played in Nashville on Wednesday. Game 7, if necessary, would be played back in Phoenix on Friday.
Not surprisingly, the Kings couldn't care less who they face in Round 3.
"It doesn't matter to us," defenseman Drew Doughty said. "We're fully confident in this room that we can beat either team. Both of them are unbelievable teams and it's going to be a battle, that's for sure."
Los Angeles experienced success against both Phoenix and Nashville during the regular season. The Kings went 3-1-2 against the Coyotes -- a Pacific Division rival -- and shut them out twice. They also won three of four matchups against the Predators.
Regardless of opponent, the Kings will not have home-ice advantage. Phoenix won the Pacific and earned the No. 3 seed, while Nashville racked up 104 points and finished fourth.
Los Angeles coach Darryl Sutter broke up the room when asked how nice it would be to have the shorter flight to Phoenix. He began with, "We're starting on the road, so …" and then paused and said, "I kind of like Nashville, too. Two days between games."
Added goalie Jonathan Quick, who is 8-1-0 this postseason with a 1.55 goals-against average and .949 save percentage: "You're not rooting for either team. Both teams are great [opponents]. We know goaltending presents their own challenges. If we have to travel to Nashville, it is what it is. If we have to travel to Phoenix, we'll go there."
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