GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) – Dustin Penner scored 17:42 into overtime and the Los Angeles Kings are headed to the Stanley Cup finals for the second time as a franchise after beating the Phoenix Coyotes with a 4-3 win in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals Tuesday night.
Penner gathered a bouncing puck and beat Mike Smith between the pads for the game-winner, extending the Kings’ road winning streak to an NHL-record eight straight games. Anze Kopitar scored a short-handed goal, Drew Doughty had a goal and an assist, and Mike Richards also scored for Los Angeles.
“I got a lucky bounce,” Penner said. “I just waited for it to settle down, and I got a chance to get it in the net.”
The first team to go undefeated on the road en route to the Stanley Cup finals, the Kings will play Game 1 on May 30 at either New Jersey or New York.
Los Angeles is in the final round for the first time since 1993, when Wayne Gretzky and the Kings lost to the Montreal Canadiens in their only finals appearance.
Taylor Pyatt had a goal and an assist, Marc-Antoine Pouliot and Keith Yandle also scored for the Coyotes in their first trip to the Western Conference finals.
Los Angeles blew one chance to put away the pesky Coyotes.
Leading the series 3-0 and playing at home, the Kings couldn’t match Phoenix’s intensity in Game 4 and lost 2-0, giving the Coyotes a glimmer of hope.
What they didn’t want to do is give them momentum.
Phoenix has been as good as any team in the league when the confidence is rolling, using an 11-game winning streak in February to get back into the playoff race and a five-game streak to close out its first NHL division title.
The Kings had come through in this spot once before, beating top-seeded Vancouver on the road after failing to complete the sweep at home in Game 4.
They didn’t appear ready to do it again.
Riding the confidence carryover from Game 4, the Coyotes dominated early, controlling the puck, giving the Kings little room in the neutral zone or anywhere else. Phoenix had some good scoring chances early and Pyatt cashed in on a power play, redirecting Martin Hanzal’s one-timer in the slot 4:20 into the game.
“The first period was tough,” Penner said. “They threw everything at us. (Goaltender Jonathan) Quick hung in there for us, made some big saves, and we battled back. We couldn’t have done it without him.”
The Kings snatched a little momentum back with their fifth short-handed goal of the playoffs. Kopitar got it, redirecting a shot by Doughty past Smith off a faceoff after Phoenix’s goalie was called for icing.
Then it turned into a shootout in the second period.
Pouliot gave Phoenix the lead back by flipping a backhander past Quick on a loose puck in front midway through for his first career playoff goal. Doughty tied it a few minutes later, scoring from just inside the blue line on a shot Smith had trouble seeing through traffic.
Richards scored on rebound to put Los Angeles up 3-2, Yandle tied it again after a pass by Pyatt caromed off his right leg past Quick.
Both teams had numerous scoring chances in a hectic third period, but both goalies made some superb saves.
They went back and forth in the overtime, too, until Penner finally ended it when a shot by Jeff Carter caromed out front to him in the slot.
With it, the Kings, after a 19-year wait and some dicey moments against the Coyotes, are finally headed back to the finals.
“It feels great,” Penner said. “We just had to worry about ourselves. And we were able to battle back.”
Notes: Coyotes RW Radim Vrbata had an assist on Pyatt’s goal for his first point in eight games. … Los Angeles was 2 for 27 in the series on the power play after going 0 for 4 in Game 5. … Yandle has nine points in the playoffs, matching Dave Babych’s team record for a defenseman set in 1985. … Los Angeles has won 10 straight road playoff games over two seasons, an NHL record.
2012 Stanley Cup Final Schedule
Game 1 Wed., May 30 8 p.m. S
Game 2 Sat., June 2 8 p.m.
Game 3 Mon., June 4 8 p.m.
Game 4 Wed., June 6 8 p.m.
*Game 5 Sat., June 9 8 p.m.
*Game 6 Mon., June 11 8 p.m.
*Game 7 Wed., June 13 8 p.m.
* – If necessary
All times listed are Eastern Time