The best day in the history of the Phoenix Coyotes?

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The best day in the history of the Phoenix Coyotes?

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.

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5 must-see moments from Wizards' loss to Sixers

5 must-see moments from Wizards' loss to Sixers

Here are five plays or moments from the Washington Wizards' 120-112 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center on Friday night that are worth revisiting...

1. These are in chronological order, but the first highlight from this game is the best one of the night.

John Wall pulled off one of his best dunks of the season, a reverse slam with his left hand. Wall was fouled on the play and knocked down the free throw:

Wall finished with 29 points, 14 assists and eight rebounds.

2. Bradley Beal was the star on an otherwise disappointing night for the Wizards. He dropped 40 points for the fourth time this season. Two of his points came on this stepback jumper that looked like a three-pointer at first:

3. Here's more of Beal. This time he stole a pass and threw it down on the other end:

4. Marcin Gortat had another solid night with 11 points and 11 rebounds. Here was his best play of the night, a two-handed putback slam on a Wall miss:

5. Friday was Bojan Bogdanovic's first game with the Wizards since getting traded to them on Wednesday from the Brooklyn Nets. He was limited to just two points in 18 minutes. And those two points came on a goaltending call:

It just wasn't the Wizards' night, on the court or off of it. In this clip Jason Smith is left hanging on a handshake attempt. Poor Jason:

As mentioned above, Beal had another great game. He just didn't get much help.

[RELATED: Ian Mahinmi leaves Wizards loss to Sixers with back injury]

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The Capitals will be shorthanded again in Nashville on Saturday

The Capitals will be shorthanded again in Nashville on Saturday

The three Capitals who sat out Friday’s 2-1 win over the Oilers will also miss Saturday’s game against the Predators, Coach Barry Trotz said.

Defensemen Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik, both suffering from lower body injuries, and winger T.J. Oshie, who has an upper body ailment, did not travel accompany the team to Nashville.

The plan, according to Trotz, is for the three injured players to join the team on the second leg of the road trip. The Caps are scheduled to practice at the Devils’ home rink on Monday afternoon before heading to New York to face the Rangers on Tuesday.  

“We didn’t want to rush anything,” Trotz said. “We didn’t know on Brooks really until this afternoon.”

Trotz added: “We said, ‘Let’s not rush anything. We’re in a good spot. Let’s get everyone healthy.’”

RELATED: Kuznetsov shuts down McDavid as Caps continue streak at home

Niskanen suffered an apparent left leg injury Wednesday night in a collision with Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas. The first sign that something was bothering Orpik came Thursday when he missed practice.  Oshie, meanwhile, remains sore after absorbing a couple of big blows in Philadelphia.

All three players are officially listed as day-to-day.

Friday’s game against Connor McDavid and the surging Oilers marked the first bit of injury-related adversity the Caps have experienced this season.

It didn’t faze them.

A blue line that including seventh defenseman Taylor Chorney and minor league call-up Aaron Ness helped limit McDavid, the NHL’s leading scorer, to a secondary assist and just one shot on goal in 21:42 of ice time.

Meanwhile, prospect Riley Barber made his NHL debut with Oshie sidelined. Barber recorded two shots on goal in 9:56 of ice time.

Washington's lineup will likely remain unchanged against P.K. Subban and the Predators, who have earned a point in three straight games (2-0-1). 

MORE CAPITALS: Wayne Gretzky loves how much Alex Ovechkin wants to win a Stanley Cup