Saturday, April 10, 2010
On this date in 1982, the Los Angeles Kings staged the greatest comeback in NHL playoff history when the came back from being down by five goals 2 1/2 minutes into the third period.
Back in 1982, the first round of the NHL playoffs were a best-of-five and featured teams playing opponents within their own division.
The Edmonton Oilers, in the process of gearing up for their dynasty, had won the Smythe Division with 111 points, 48 points ahead of the fourth place Kings whose 63 points came from a sub-.500 record of only 24-41-13. The Oilers were led by Hart Trophy winner Wayne Gretzky, who had just completed the single greatest season in league history, scoring 92 goals and 212 points, while Dave Taylor led the Kings with 106 points, exactly half of Gretzky's total.
In Game 1, the Kings chose to try to beat the Oilers at their own game rather than shut them down defensively and the result was a scintillating 10-8 win for the Kings, a record for the most goals in a playoff game that still stands today.
More traditional playoff hockey returned for Game 2 as the Oilers defeated the Kings 3-2 in overtime to send the series to Los Angeles tied a game apiece.
In Game 3, played at The Forum, located at 3900 W. Manchester Boulevard, saw the Oilers break out on top with a goal by Mark Messier. A shorthanded goal by Gretzky saw the Oilers up by two at the end of the first period.
The Kings powerplay carried over into the second period and disaster struck when Kings goaltender Mario Lessard misplayed a sharp angle shot by Lee Fogolin for a 3-0 Edmonton lead.
With both teams later playing 3-on-3, Gretzky stole the puck deep in the Kings end and passed to defenseman Risto Siltanen, who one-timmed the puck past Lessard and through the goal netting. The goal judge saw what had happened and turned the goal light on. The referees met and agreed that it was indeed a goal, which was later confirmed by video replay, to give the Oilers a now four goal cushion.
The rout was on when Glenn Anderson sent a hard pass through the legs of a Kings defenseman to Gretzky, who simply deflected he puck into the net for a 5-0 lead at the end of two periods.
The Kings main focus for the first part of the third period was to do the little things right, make an effort to get back into the game mainly to salvage some pride and try to carry some momentum into Game 4.
Jay Wells got the Kings on the board at 2:46 of the third with a shot through a screen set by Dave Taylor.
Less than three minutes later, the Kings went on the powerplay and won a faceoff in the Oilers end. The puck went back to Mark Hardy on the point, who threw the puck at the net. Fuhr saved the initial shot, but the rebound landed between the skates of Oiler defenseman Kevin Lowe. The Kings Doug Smith pounced on the opportunity and fired a shot under the crossbar to narrow the margin to 5-2.
With both teams playing 4-on-4, the Oilers attempt at a clearing pass was intercepted and passed to Charlie Simmer, who skated in on the goal and attempted to jam the puck in on the right side while falling down. Oiler defenseman Randy Gregg attempted to tie up Simmer's stick, but in his haste hit Fuhr's leg, knocking Fuhr back far enough to allow the puck to slide over the goal line to cut the Oilers lead to two, which energized the once morose crowd.
With five minutes remaining, Pat Hughes of the Oilers was stopped on a breakaway and in the chase to control the puck, the Oilers Garry Unger was called for a five-minute high sticking major, while Dave Lewis of the Kings was called for roughing, which meant the teams would play 4-on-4 for the next two minutes. Forward Steve Bozek skated into the Oilers zone and cut to the right and made a drop pass back to Hardy who was moving to his left. The criss-cross movement gave Hardy some space and he fired a wrist shot back toward the right side of the net and past Fuhr to pull the Kings within one and send the crowd into a frenzy.
Once the penalty to the King's Lewis expired, Unger's major continued, giving the Kings a power play for the final three minutes of the game. Lessard then saved the game for the Kings when he stopped a clean breakaway by Hughes of the Oilers and made an even better save on the rebound attempt.
As time wound down and the Kings having trouble gaining the Oilers zone the Kings pulled Lessard for a two man advantage. Now with only 45 seconds to play, Kings star Marcel Dionne gained possession of the puck and kept control of it for over 20 seconds looking for a chance to shoot or a good passing opportunity. Finally he sent the puck to Simmer, who quickly returned the pass. Dionne fired a quick shot, which Fuhr saved. The rebound went over to the boards on the right, where Jim Fox gained control of the puck and sent it into the center of the zone to Hardy who fired a low shot at Fuhr, who saved the initial shot but could not stop the puck from rebounding in front of the net. Rookie Bozek, unguarded due to the two man advantage with the goaltender pulled, gathered in the puck and flung a backhanded shot back at Fuhr, who did not have time to react as the puck sailed between his legs and into the net with just five ticks remaining on the clock to complete the comeback and tie the score at 5-5, sending the Kings fan's into absolute delirium and the contest into overtime.
Lessard nearly gave the game away by sliding out of his net to corral a rebound on a bouncing shot from center ice. In doing so, he collided with the Oilers Anderson, knocking the puck even further away and leaving him stranded 20 feet out of his goal. Messier gained possession of the puck and lifted a backhand attempt at the goal, which rolled off his stick blade sailing wide of the net as Hardy and another Kings player attempted to block Messier's shot in a heart-stopping moment for the Kings fans.
After a save by Fuhr that resulted in a faceoff in the Oilers zone, the Kings sent out an all-rookie forward line of Bozek, Smith and Daryl Evans. Smith won the faceoff back to Evans, who one-timed a slapshot toward the upper corner of the net. Fuhr raised his glove to make the save, but the puck eluded him and for the game winning goal at 2:35 of the overtime for a 6-5 Kings win, sending the crowd into rapture and the Kings to a 2-1 series lead in a game that would become known as "The Miracle on Manchester".
The Oilers regrouped for Game 4 to win on the road 3-2, sending the series back to Edmonton for the deciding Game 5.
Confident they could skate with the Oilers, the Kings took a 2-0 lead on a pair of goals by Simmer. Dan Bonar added a pair of goals, as did Evans. Bernie Nicholls also scored at 6:49 of the second to put the Kings ahead to stay as they defeated the Oilers 7-4 to eliminate Edmonton from the playoffs, setting a record for the largest regular season point differential (48) in a series won by the underdog.
Today's featured jersey is a CCM 1981-82 Los Angeles Kings Mark Hardy jersey as worn during the record setting Kings comeback known as the "Miracle on Manchester" in which he scored a goal and had a couple of assists.
Hardy played nine seasons for the Kings and then briefly the New York Rangers and Minnesota North Stars before rejoining the Rangers for five seasons. He would return to the Kings to finish out his 16 year NHL career in which he played 915 games, scoring 368 points.
Today's video features footage of the Kings amazing record setting third period comeback on this date in 1982.
Dasherboard: Last night was the final game for one of our favorite players here at Third String Goalie, Keith Tkachuk. One of our favorite moments was being at the game during the 2004 World Cup of Hockey when Tkachuk scored four goals to help the United States eliminate the Russia. Tkachuk's four goals were all assisted by Mike Modano, who also may very well be playing his final game tonight.
As a tribute to Tkachuk, a look at some of the jerseys Tkachuk wore during his long career, which included over 500 goals, 1,000 points and 1,000 NHL games and a gold medal in the 1996 World Cup of Hockey and a silver medal in the 2002 Olympics.