Kings complete sweep of Blues, advance to conference finals

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Kings complete sweep of Blues, advance to conference finals

LOS ANGELES (AP) Dustin Brown scored two goals, Jonathan Quick made 23 saves, and the eighth-seeded Los Angeles 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.After steamrolling top-seeded Vancouver and second-seeded St. Louis with eight wins in nine games, the Kings will face the winner of Phoenix's series with Nashville in the Western Conference finals.Los Angeles won despite its weakest effort of the postseason, clinging to its 2-1 first-period lead through 40 minutes dominated by St. Louis. The Kings didn't adapt well to an unusually early start time, yet Quick made a handful of stellar saves before Brown scored his sixth goal of a stellar postseason into an empty net with 25.8 seconds left."It's a special group, and we knew that all along this season," said Anze Kopitar, who had assists on both of Brown's goals and tackled the Los Angeles captain after his empty-netter."Maybe we didn't break out when we would have liked to, but I think we've peaked at the right time, and that's the most important thing."The Kings made their only previous trip to the conference finals in 1993, when Wayne Gretzky and Luc Robitaille propelled Los Angeles past Toronto and into their only Stanley Cup finals, where they lost to Montreal. The Kings won just one playoff series in the ensuing 17 seasons before routing the Presidents' Trophy-winning Canucks in five first-round games last month."I can only imagine how happy Kings fans are right now," said Brown, who has never played for another organization. "They've been through a rough stretch, and to win on home ice, that's huge for everyone in this room. It's nice to see the fans get jacked up as much as they could. They haven't an opportunity to celebrate like that at home."

Kevin Shattenkirk scored his first career playoff goal for the Blues, who were outscored 15-6 in the series to end their most successful season in more than a decade. Brian Elliott stopped 17 shots in an improved performance, but the Kings' momentum couldn't even be stopped by a bad game."L.A. plays the way you need to play to win the Cup," said St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock, who won the title with Dallas in 1999. "Over the disappointments of the last three or four years, they've figured it out."Los Angeles' only previous playoff series sweep happened in 1976 in a best-of-three elimination of Calgary. The Kings failed to sweep Vancouver in the first round, but barely managed to avoid another long trip to St. Louis by winning at Staples Center for just the third time in their past nine home playoff games.The sellout crowd had barely settled in its seats when Blues defenseman Roman Polak turned over the puck near his own net. Nolan, the 22-year-old son of former Buffalo coach Ted Nolan, jumped on Dustin Penner's rebound to score his first career playoff goal just 4:36 in.St. Louis managed just one shot in the first 11 minutes, but evened the score with its second - a rocket from Shattenkirk, who beat Quick for a rare clean goal against the Kings' All-Star goalie. Shattenkirk hadn't scored in the Blues' past seven playoff games after getting an assist for his first career postseason point in the opener.Brown put the Kings back ahead late in the period when he used Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo as a screen for a sneaky shot to beat Elliott. The captain has been a dominant physical force throughout the postseason, but he hadn't scored a goal since Game 3 of the first round.Afterward, Hitchcock acknowledged Pietrangelo is playing with a serious injury, but wouldn't disclose the specifics. Pietrangelo missed Game 2 after a hard hit from Dwight King in the opener.While St. Louis dominated the second period with solid forechecking and desperate offense, the Kings fell into one of their biggest funks of the postseason, managing just one shot in the first 18 minutes of the period. The Blues couldn't beat Quick, who also wasn't his usual sharp self.The Blues again dominated early in the third, and Matt D'Agostini's deflected shot barely caught Quick's crossbar early on. During 4-on-4 play a few minutes later, David Perron nearly scored on a rebound before Kopitar slid into the crease and knocked the puck underneath Quick.
Watch the highlights from Game 4 below:

Blackhawks sign Sam Carrick, Pierre Cedric-Labrie to one-year deals

Blackhawks sign Sam Carrick, Pierre Cedric-Labrie to one-year deals

The Blackhawks announced Friday that they have made a couple minor-league moves.

Forwards Sam Carrick and Pierre-Cedric Labrie agreed to one-year deals with the team, and are likely to report to the Rockford IceHogs of the American League.

Carrick, 24, scored 16 goals and 18 assists in 52 games last season with the AHL's Toronto Marlies. Across four seasons with the Marlies, Carrick has accumulated 100 points (41 goals and 59 assists) in 192 games, including six goals and 11 assists in 36 career Calder Cup playoff games.

He was a fifth-round pick (No. 144 overall) in the 2010 NHL Draft.

Labrie, 30, has spent the last two season in Rockford, where he scored a career-high 20 goals and added 14 assists in 66 games last season. The Blackhawks originally signed Labrie, who was an undrafted free agent, in 2014 before re-signing him to a one-year contract last June.

White Sox promote Carlos Sanchez, place Matt Davidson on disabled list

White Sox promote Carlos Sanchez, place Matt Davidson on disabled list

The White Sox promoted Carlos Sanchez on Friday and placed Matt Davidson on the 15-day disabled list with a broken right foot.

The starting second baseman in 2015, Sanchez has appeared in 11 games for the White Sox this season. He’s hitting .154 with one RBI in 29 plate appearances. Sanchez was hitting .258/.313/.413 at Triple-A Charlotte with six homers and 24 RBIs.

Davidson became the most recent White Sox casualty when he broke a bone in his foot running the bases in his season debut on Thursday. The third baseman singled in a run and scored but injured himself somewhere in between.

Acquired in a trade for Addison Reed in December 2013, Davidson was in the midst of his best season at Triple-A. He was named an International League All-Star earlier this week and was promoted to the big leagues on Thursday. 

Andrew Ladd inks long-term deal with Islanders

Andrew Ladd inks long-term deal with Islanders

Up against the salary cap, Andrew Ladd and the Blackhawks knew it would be difficult for the two sides to agree on a new deal that would be comfortable for both parties.

That day has officially come.

Ladd officially inked a seven-year, $38.5 million deal with the New York Islanders when free agency opened Friday at 11 a.m. The contract carries a $5.5 million cap hit, which is clearly out of the Blackhawks' range.

Ladd, 31, scored eight goals and four assists in 19 regular-season games with the Blackhawks last season after being acquired from the Winnipeg Jets at the trade deadline.

He finished the year with 25 goals and 46 points in 78 games, and registered one goal and an assist in seven playoff games.