GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Phoenix Coyotes keep building momentum -- on the ice and off the ice Monday.
Hours after NHL commissioner Gary Bettman held a press conference to provide a promising update on the sale of the club to former San Jose Sharks executive Greg Jamison, the Coyotes reached uncharted territory with a 2-1 victory over the Nashville Predators at Jobing.com Arena.
With the win, Phoenix clinched the series, 4-1, to advance to the Western Conference Finals. The Coyotes will face the Los Angeles Kings. The dates have not yet been set, but Coyotes will have home-ice advantage after winning the Pacific Division over the Kings.
Phoenix had never won a playoff series in 14 previous seasons in the Valley of the Sun. Now they have won two in a row while also winning a clinching game on home ice for the first time in six postseason tries.
"You get kind of beat up after not finding a way to get out of that first round," captain Shane Doan said. "But it's only halfway. We've got to win four more and then regroup again."
Anything seems possible with goalie Mike Smith playing at his current level.
For the fourth time in five games of this series, Smith outdueled Vezina Trophy finalist Pekka Rinne, stopping 32 Nashville shots. Smith wasn't one of three finalists for the Vezina but he is quickly building a reputation in the postseason.
"In the playoffs, you need great goaltending," Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. "If you have great goaltending you have a chance every night."
Smith is second in the postseason among goalies who have played at least four games with a .948 save percentage and third in save percentage at 1.77. He's also faced a league-high 379 shots.
On Monday, Nashville coaches estimated they had 25 scoring chances on Smith, but he robbed Andrei Kostitsyn point blank and flashed his glove to steal a high shot from Gabriel Bourque in the second period. He also got help from his teammates, who blocked 17 shots.
"I thought we created enough chances to be in a different situation," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. "But the Coyotes did a great job. There's a reason they beat Chicago (in the first round) and there's a reason they beat us."
Nashville finally broke Smith's shutout streak at 168 minutes, 45 seconds when Colin Wilson scored 14:01 into the third period, but the Predators couldn't crack him again, managing three goals during the final three games of the series.
Smith almost capped the night with a rare milestone. With Rinne pulled for an extra attacker late, he made a bid for the empty net with a long clearing pass and missed wide right by inches, forcing one last face-off in the Coyotes zone with less than two seconds.
Tippett had no problem with the bid. All he asked Smith was: "Why did you miss the net?"
Nashville outshot the Coyotes 33-17, but the second period was a microcosm of this series. Nashville sustained flurries around the net but rarely getting good chances through Coyotes sticks and bodies.
Defenseman Derek Morris put Phoenix on the board first, rifling a shot from the point through Rinne's legs to stake the Coyotes to a 1-0 lead almost four minutes into the second period. The team that scored first had won each of the previous games in this series.
Phoenix widened its lead to 2-0 in that same period after the Predators failed in another flurry around Smith. Phoenix center Daymond Langkow made a safe play to chip the puck out of the zone off the boards. Forward Kyle Chipchura corralled the pass and skated to the far boards of the Nashville zone, waiting for a trailer.
Coyotes center Martin Hanzal then beat his man into the zone, took a feed from Chipchura and ripped a 30-foot wrist shot past Rinne at the 15:09 mark.
Three of Nashville's best chances rang iron in the second period. Shea Weber's slapshot from the point hit the post before Smith stopped Kostitsyn on a rebound chance.
The Predators then hit back-to-back posts before defenseman Roman Josi found Smith down on the ground with an open side of the net. True to form for this game, Phoenix forward Mikkel Boedker slid in front of Josi's wrist shot to keep Nashville off the board.