Saturday, April 7, 2012
The 1981-82 NHL playoffs saw a change to a new format, with the top four teams in each division qualifying for the postseason. The division winner would meet the fourth place club, while the second place finisher would meet the third in a pair of best-of-five series in the opening round.
In the Smythe Division, the Edmonton Oilers cruised to a first place finish with a 48-17-15 record for 111 points (second overall in the league) and miles ahead of the Vancouver Canucks 77 points, as they trailed the Oilers by 18 wins. The Oilers opponents for the first round of the playoffs were the Los Angeles Kings, who limped into the postseason with a poor 24-41-15 record, earning 63 points in the standings but given a free pass into the playoffs thanks to being in a five team division that included the moribund Colorado Rockies, the worst team in the league, who the Kings cleared by 14 points. The Kings 63 points were actually less than the Washington Capitals 65 points, who missed the playoffs by virtue of finishing last in the rugged Patrick Division which was inhabited by the President's Trophy winning New York Islanders, who finished with 118 points, the New York Rangers (92 points), Philadelphia Flyers (87) and Pittsburgh Penguins (75).
The playoffs got underway on this date in 1982 with all eight series taking to the ice, which included the Oilers hosting the Kings in Edmonton.
Grant Fuhr got the start in goal for the home team, while Mario Lessard got the nod for the visitors from Los Angeles.
The Kings Mario Lessard
Glenn Anderson set the tone for the game early with a goal for the Oilers at the 1:35 mark from Kevin Lowe and Jari Kurri.
After the Kings' Jay Wells was ejected from the game following an altercation with Kurri and trying to get to Lee Fogolin, Steve Bozak answered for the Kings from Jim Fox and Daryl Evans on the power play at exactly 6:00 Dave Semenko in the penalty box for Edmonton.
The high scoring Oilers responded quickly, with Tom Roulston scoring from Pat Hughes 16 second later, followed quickly by Risto Siltanen adding to the Oilers lead just 20 second later from Anderson and Wayne Gretzky.
The NHL's leading scorer in 1982, Wayne Gretzky
Siltanen made it 4-1 for Edmonton before the halfway mark of the first period when he scored his second goal in less than 2 1/2 minutes from Gretzky and Kurri on a power play with the Kings Dave Taylor off the ice.
The Kings let it be known they were not going to go away easily though, as Fox scored at 14:09 from Dave Lewis followed by Taylor scoring on the power play from Charlie Simmer on a power play with just 7 seconds remaining in the period with Gretzky in the box. The first period then came to a close with the Oilers leading 4-3 on the scoreboard and 17-11 in shots on goal.
Doug Smith evened the score at 4-4 with an unassisted goal for Los Angeles at 3:11 and the Kings' leading scorer Marcel Dionne gave them their first lead of the game with a power play goal at 9:17 from Taylor and defenseman Larry Murphy.
The Oilers beat Lessard to tie the game once again at 13:30 when Charlie Huddy scored shorthanded at 13:30, which opened the floodgates.
Dionne's second of the game came 47 second later from Taylor and Evans on the same power play to regain the lead for the Kings at 6-5. Evans increased the lead to 7-5 when he scored 43 seconds later at the 15 minute mark.
Edmonton pulled one back at 17:22 when Dave Lumley joined the scoring parade from Gretzky and Garry Lariviere only to have Evans score his second of the period from Smith and Dean Hopkins at 15:00 even to restore the Kings two goal margin with 24 second remaining the second period.
Both goaltenders remained in the game despite the 14 combined goals as the Oilers led in shots 25-24. Amazingly, the first half of the period passed without a goal but Gretzky put an end to that with an even strength goal from Anderson and Kurri at 10:20.
Matti Hagman then tied the track meet at 8-8 from Mark Messier, who shockingly scored his first point of the night, and Siltanen.
The Triple Crown Line then combined to put Los Angeles back into the lead at 14:56 when Simmer scored the 9th Kings goal from Taylor and Dionne, which became the game winner when Bernie Nicholls scored for his belated first point of the night from Fox into an empty net at 19:08 to make the final score 10-8.
Simmer, Dionne and Taylor, the Triple Crown Line
Both goaltenders went the distance, with Fuhr making 25 saves on 35 shots, while Lessard got the win despite allowing 8 goals on 33 shots. The 17,490 fans in Edmonton got to witness a record setting 18 goals in a single playoff game, a record which still stands alone in league history.
The Oilers goaltender Fuhr
Since that night, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia scored 17 in 1989, the same Oilers and Kings tallied 16 five years and two days later in 1987 and the Kings and Calgary Flames also reached 16 during the 1990 playoffs. Since that time, the style of play in the post season has changed to a much more defensive, clampdown style, which perhaps reached it's nadir when the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim and Minnesota Wild played four games which saw a combined 10 total goals for the entire series! This coming in the era of obstruction, hooking, holding, slashing, cross-checking and oversize goalie pads.
Sanity returned for Game 2 of the Oilers vs. King series, as Edmonton evened the series 3-2 in overtime. Game 3 stole the spotlight from the record setting Game 1, when the Kings staged the greatest comeback in NHL history, when trailing 5-0 after two periods, they scored five times, including 3 in the final 5:22, with the final goal coming with only five seconds left in regulation, before winning it 6-5 at 2:35 of overtime, a game which became known as "The Miracle on Manchester".
Still, Edmonton rebounded to win Game 4 on the road to force a deciding Game 5 back in Edmonton, which was won easily by the Kings 7-4to pull off one of the biggest upsets in playoff history, as the Kings eliminated the Oilers after finishing 48 points behind them in the regular season standings after Edmonton had won twice as many games as Los Angeles, 48-24.
Today's featured jersey is a 1981-82 Los Angeles Kings Charlie Simmer jersey, as worn during the record setting 18 goal game between the Kings and Oilers on this date in 1982 by the man who scored the game winning goal.
The Kings began play in the NHL in the 1967-68 season of expansion, wearing their original purple and gold jerseys which featured only the most basic striping on the arm and waist. That style was replaced in 1980-81 by a much more modern style, with it's shoulder coloring extended all the way down the arms and wrapping all the way around the wrists in a manner similar to the Flyers jerseys.
These jerseys would remain in use through the 1987-88 season when the arrival of Gretzky in Los Angeles heralded a new era, which called for a new set of sweaters that eliminated all of the purple and gold from the Kings color scheme. Aside from the inclusion of purple for the short-lived "Burger King" alternates of 1995-96, purple would not return to the Kings jerseys until 1998 and gold has yet to be seen again.
Today's video section are the highlights of the wild, record setting Kings 10-8 win over the Oilers on this date in 1982, with each video focusing in on a single period, which combine for 20 total minutes of high scoring action.