LOS ANGELES — Anze Kopitar skated down Dustin Brown and just plain tackled him, dropping the Los Angeles Kings captain to the ice as a sellout crowd expelled 19 years of frustration.
Brown’s goal into the empty St. Louis net had just secured a spot in the Western Conference finals for the Kings, who steamrolled their first two playoff opponents the same way Kopitar flattened his longtime teammate.
Eternal also-rans since joining the NHL nearly 45 years ago, the Kings are going deep in this postseason – and the best of the West hasn’t slowed them down yet.
Brown scored two goals, Jonathan Quick made 23 saves, and the eighth-seeded Kings finished an improbable four-game sweep of the St. Louis Blues with a 3-1 victory Sunday, advancing to the conference finals for just the second time in club history.
Rookie Jordan Nolan scored an early goal for the Kings, the first No. 8 seed in NHL history to eliminate their conference’s top two seeds in the same postseason. The Kings only clinched a playoff berth right before their 81st game, but they’ve been unstoppable ever since.
DEVILS 4, FLYERS 2
In Newark, N.J., Dainius Zubrus scored two goals and New Jersey rallied from an early two-goal deficit and pushed Philadelphia to the brink of elimination with a win in Game 4.
Zubrus put New Jersey ahead 3-2 late in the second period and iced the game with an empty-net goal in the final minute.
Petr Sykora and Marek Zidlicky also scored for the Devils, who can advance to their first conference final since 2003 with a win in Philadelphia on Tuesday night. New Jersey has never lost a playoff series after taking a 3-1 lead.
In winning their third in a row, the Devils let goalie Martin Brodeur have an easy night on his 40th birthday, outshooting Philadelphia 43-22.
Scott Hartnell and Claude Giroux scored first-period goals for the Flyers.
SUSPENDED: Phoenix Coyotes defenseman Rostislav Klesla was suspended for one game by the NHL for boarding Nashville Predators forward Matt Halischuk on Friday night.
Klesla received a minor penalty for boarding in the first period of Coyotes’ 1-0 road victory in Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinal series. Video replays showed he appeared to grab Halischuk’s jersey before slamming him into the boards.