Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 5/8/12

About an hour before Game 5 of the Western Conference finals began, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announced that League has an understanding with a group headed by former San Jose Sharks CEO Greg Jamison to pursue a purchase agreement of the Phoenix Coyotes.

Just that would have been a great night for Coyotes fans. But it got a lot better.

With goalie Mike Smith leading the way with a 33-save performance, the Coyote got just enough offense from Derek Morris and Martin Hanzal, blocked just enough shots (17) and held on just long enough to beat the Nashville Predators 2-1 and advance to the Western Conference finals for the first time in the franchise's 33-year history.

"It is kind of funny, but when we went on that (11-0-1 streak) in February, we thought, 'We can beat anybody now.' We really did think we could beat anyone," said Phoenix captain Shane Doan, who had never been past the first round of the playoffs in his 16-year NHL career but has now been on the right side of the handshake line against both Chicago and Nashville over the last two weeks. "That was probably the first step. Winning the division was big for our group -- feeling like you not only belong in the playoffs, but you won the division."

Picked to finish as low as 16th in the West in preseason polls, the Pacific Division champions now have home-ice advantage against the red-hot Los Angeles Kings with a berth in the Stanley Cup Finals on the line. But both the team and coach Dave Tippett took the achievement in stride, reminding anyone who would listen that the job is only half-done.

But Tippett, who had taken a team that had missed the playoffs for eight straight years to three straight postseasons and now to the NHL's Final Four, also took a moment to acknowledge the accomplishment.

"It is very rewarding, because you love to see people rewarded for the work that they put in. You just think about how much work Shane Doan has put in. You think about the work that Mike Smith has put in this year and in his career to get to this level. This doesn't just happen by coincidence."

The Coyotes and Kings will each have a week off to rest and heal up for the series, which should being Monday or Tuesday in Glendale.

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