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Coyotes out after 4-3 loss to Kings in West finals

Associated Press Published: May 23, 2012
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GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — The Phoenix Coyotes avoided a sweep with a gutty performance in Los Angeles. They couldn't do it again back home in the desert, though the disappointment shouldn't linger too long.

This was, after all, the best season in the franchise's 33-year NHL history.

Unable to capitalize on numerous chances early and late, the Coyotes were knocked out of the playoffs when Dustin Penner scored 17:42 into overtime to give the Los Angeles Kings a 4-3 victory in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals Tuesday night.

"It's disappointing for a season to end like that," Coyotes goalie Mike Smith said. "It stings, it's frustrating. We gave it all we had. We battled all season long."

The Coyotes avoided being swept out of their first conference finals with a 2-0 win in Los Angeles on Sunday. They couldn't extend the series another game despite jumping on the Kings early, unable to stop Los Angeles' waves of skilled players or Penner's final shot.

Taylor Pyatt had a goal and an assist, Marc-Antoine Pouliot and Keith Yandle also scored, and Smith made some superb saves while facing 51 shots.

Still, what a season for the Coyotes.

Playing without an owner for the third straight season, they won their first NHL division title and advanced to the conference finals for the first time. Now they have an owner in waiting and a solid core of young players who could keep this franchise going for the foreseeable future.

"There will be some frustration for a few days," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. "But ultimately I think our players should look back and feel good about a lot of the things that they accomplished this year."

The kings of the road, Los Angeles will play for hockey's ultimate prize for the first time since 1993 after taking down the Western Conference's top three seeds.

The Kings knocked off No. 1 Vancouver, the Presidents' Trophy winner, No. 2 St. Louis and rounded it out with a five-game win over the No. 3 Coyotes in the conference finals to become the second No. 8 seed — along with Edmonton in 2006 — to reach the Stanley Cup finals.

They played hard, utilized their skill and size, and won away from home like no other team in NHL history.

After losing Game 4 at home, Los Angeles closed out Phoenix for its NHL record eighth straight road victory of the playoffs. The Kings became the first team to go undefeated on the road en route to the Stanley Cup finals and have won 10 straight road playoff games over two seasons, another record.

Anze Kopitar scored Los Angeles' fifth short-handed goal of the playoffs, Drew Doughty had a goal an assist, and Mike Richards also scored for Los Angeles. Jonathan Quick had some big saves in the third period and overtime, and Penner capped it by gathering a bouncing puck and beating Smith for his third goal of the playoffs.

Next up for the Kings is a trip to the New York metropolitan area. They will play Game 1 on May 30 at either the New York Rangers or the New Jersey Devils. Los Angeles last played in the final round 19 years ago, vs. Montreal.

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