From Comcast SportsNetGLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) -- An hour before one of the biggest games in franchise history, the Phoenix Coyotes learned a deal was in place for a new owner, one they hoped would end three years of uncertainty.They celebrated in typical fashion: grinding out another victory.This one, though, will take them somewhere they've never been before: the Western Conference finals.Relying again on their grit and the superb goaltending of Mike Smith, the Coyotes beat the Nashville Predators 2-1 on Monday night to earn their first trip to the conference finals in 33 years as an NHL franchise."It feels great right now, a lot of hard work," Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle said. "It's been a battle the past few years, but it's a lot of fun and we're blessed to be where we are right now."The day started off with news the Coyotes and their fans had been anticipating for three years.Speaking as players from both teams warmed up in the hallway, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced that a tentative deal had been reached to sell the Coyotes to former San Jose Sharks CEO Greg Jamison.The Coyotes paid it no mind. They had spent the previous three seasons with the uncertainty hanging over them and had learned to keep their focus on the ice, not what happens off it.Playing its usual counterpunching style, Phoenix withstood an early flurry by Nashville and followed with goals from Derek Morris and Martin Hanzal in the second period.And, as usual, the Coyotes gave up a late goal to make it interesting, this one by Colin Wilson with just under 6 minutes left.Phoenix has become accustomed to seat-of-their-pants victories, though, and they pulled out another one, nearly getting an empty-net goal by Smith before setting off a raucous celebration on the ice rink surrounded by desert.Next up for the Coyotes are the Los Angeles Kings, the first No. 8 seed to knock off Nos. 1 and 2 in the same playoffs."We've learned a lot as a group who we are and every guy has contributed in the series and the playoffs," said Smith, who stopped 32 shots. "It's been different guys in different series and it's been a big part of our success."Nashville, as it did all series, had plenty of good chances against Smith. Even forwards Alexander Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn back from two-game suspensions, the Predators couldn't find a way to capitalize, hitting the post at least three times and managing one goal despite outshooting the Coyotes 33-17.The loss knocks Nashville out of the playoffs in the conference semifinals for the second straight season."They found a way to keep the puck out of the net," Predators coach Barry Trotz said. "In the end, we had enough chances to win this series, but we didn't win. We couldn't bury anything past Smith."The Coyotes got some long-awaited good news before the game, when Bettman announced the league had a tentative deal to sell the team to Jamison.There's no official sale agreement yet and Jamison still needs to work out lease details with the city of Glendale, which could be a dicey proposition with conservative watchdog group the Goldwater Institute lurking. Still, after three years of waiting, the move toward ownership and staying in the desert took a big step.It had already been a great season.Relying on Smith and their protect-at-all-costs mentality, the unflashy Coyotes won their first division title as an NHL franchise and advanced to the second round of the playoffs for the first time in 25 years.Phoenix moved within the brink of the conference finals for the first time by beating Nashville twice in the desert and again in Game 4 on Smith's second shutout of the playoffs.With Jobing.com Arena juiced and Bettman, not to mention their potential new boss in the house, the Coyotes played their pack-in-and-counter game the way they have all playoffs.Nashville had the advantage early in a tight first period, Phoenix took it late, but neither scored.The Coyotes broke through early in the second, when Pekka Rinne made a kick save on a breakaway by Shane Doan, but couldn't stop Morris' shot from the point after Phoenix reset.The Predators tried to rally, turning up the pressure.Instead of the tying goal, they hit the post three times -- twice in one rapid-fire sequence -- and had another shot blocked by diving Coyotes. Smith also made a snatching save on a wrister by Gabriel Bourque.Phoenix then went back to its counterattacking ways, with Kyle Chipchura breaking out, holding, then setting up Hanzal's wrister that Rinne couldn't see with a defender in his way."That is kind of how the series went," Predators defenseman Ryan Suter said. "We didn't capitalize on their chances and they came back and it ended up in the back of our net."Up 2-0, the Coyotes packed it in, diving to block shots while giving the Predators only slivers of shooting lanes.Wilson squeezed a puck through one of them with 5:59 left, flicking a pass from David Legwand past Smith, ending his scoreless streak of more than 160 minutes.The Coyotes wouldn't let them score again and Smith nearly ended it with a flourish, missing an empty-net by a few inches with 2 seconds left.It didn't matter at that point -- the Coyotes were on their way to the conference finals, capping one of the biggest days in franchise history with another wipe-the-brow victory."Coyote ugly -- that's kind of been the motto here," Smith said. "We just find a way to win."Notes: Doan played his 50th career playoff game. ... The team that scored first won every game in the series. ... Nashville went 0 for 4 on the power play. ... Phoenix played without D Rostislav Klesla, who was suspended a game by the league for his Game 4 hit on Nashville forward Matt Halischuk.
Since he wasn’t eligible to return to the AHL and join the playoff run for the Providence Bruins, 19-year-old Charlie McAvoy will instead don the Red, White and Blue and play for Team USA in next month’s World Championships in Germany and France.
It will be the fourth time that the Bruins defenseman has represented his country in a world championship event, but the first time that McAvoy will be skating for the men’s national team after crossing over into the pro ranks this spring.
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The B’s 2016 first-round pick just finished a six-game stint in the playoffs with the Black and Gold where he totaled three assists and a minus-2 rating in while averaging a whopping 26:12 of ice time. McAvoy made all of those comparisons to Drew Doughty seem appropriate, rather than far-fetched, in his playoff performance while logging huge minutes, moving the puck, defending well enough and flashing the physical skills to be a do-it-all No. 1 NHL defenseman in the near future.
It’s fair to say he was just scratching the surface of what he can do while getting dropped into a trial-by-fire debut in the Stanley Cup playoffs, but some experience at the world championships will be another nice step toward getting him ready for full-time NHL duty next season.
“I’ve played in a couple of different jerseys this year, and I just feel so very fortunate to have been able to put on every single one of them. Each experience had its own lesson to help me grow and improve as a hockey player,” said McAvoy, who has played for Boston University, Team USA in the World Juniors, the Providence Bruins, the Boston Bruins and now Team USA in the world championships within this calendar year. “I have a quiet confidence about myself, but before you experience something like the [Stanley Cup playoffs] you don’t know how you’re going to fare. It was a credit to my teammates and a guy like Zdeno Chara that me in a position to succeed every time I was out on the ice.
“I still think there’s a lot I can learn, and I lot I can grow into. I’ve had just a small sample size of experience, but I feel like I can have a big impact on this [Bruins] team. It’s something I’ll have to work on all offseason to put myself in the best position to come in and have immediate success, but it’s something I’m committed to.”
McAvoy said at Tuesday’s break-up day that he was ineligible to return to Providence in the AHL playoffs once Boston was eliminated last weekend, and it looks like Sean Kuraly and Noel Acciari will be the only Bruins players hopping on board for the P-Bruins playoff run.
In an added bonus, McAvoy might even be able to convince fellow Bruins prospect and Notre Dame forward Anders Bjork to sign with the Black and Gold as he’ll also be on the Team USA roster looking to medal in the world championships.
It’s not quite “_____ was spotted at Logan Airport,” but here’s a fun one for anyone who digs speculation: Jarome Iginla apparently just bought a house in Boston.
Iginla, now 39, played the 2013-14 season with the Bruins on a one-year, $1.8 million contract with easily attained bonuses that essentially prevented the team from being able to re-sign him the following offseason. After scoring 30 goals for Boston, Iginla signed with the Avalanche before being traded to the Kings halfway through the final year of his three-year pact. He totaled 14 goals over 80 games between Colorado and Los Angeles in the regular season.
Now, the Boston Business Journal is reporting that the future Hall of Fame forward has purchased a house for $4.5 million in Chestnut Hill, citing a Norfolk County deed.
Iginla said after the regular season that he is unsure of his NHL future, but that he'd prefer to keep playing.
“I would say I’m leaning toward believing I’ll come back,” he said following the last game of the season, per the LA Daily News. “It’s fun, but at the same time I’ve got to go and talk with the family and see. I don’t really know for sure. Being here the last month has been a lot of fun.
“I definitely would like to play more than calling it a day. But saying that, there’s a lot of things that go into it. I don’t know for sure. I’m hoping. I’m hoping to play again. It doesn’t feel like I want that to be the last one.”
To take the purchase as a sign Iginla is set to return to the B’s would be a stretch. Plus, dude hasn’t even been spotted at the airport.