The Los Angeles Kings" target="_blank" href="http://bleacherreport.com/los-angeles-kings">Los Angeles Kings seek to go deep in the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs and add to their postseason history that includes big playoff wins.
The Kings have had inconsistent and sporadic playoff success throughout their franchise’s history, but there’s no denying the team has had some memorable series-clinching and series-extending games, as well as improbable, exciting and even record-breaking comebacks.
The following slides will relive the top 16 playoff wins in franchise history.
It will take 16 wins for the Kings to drink from the Stanley Cup.
In only their second year of existence, the Kings (24-42-10 in regular season) defeated the Oakland Seals (29-36-11) by a score of 5-3 and eliminated them to advance to the semifinals of the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs, where the Kings were swept by the St. Louis Blues 4-0.
The Blues, led by eventual co-Vezina winners Jacques Plante and Glenn Hall, advanced to the Stanley Cup finals by virtue of their series win against the Kings but were swept by the Montreal Canadians 4-0.
The Kings were led in the playoffs by top goal scorer Ted Irvine (5 G, 1 A, 6 PTS) and leading point-getter Bill Flett (3 G, 4 A, 7 PTS).
Top players that season were Phil Esposito of Boston (49 G, 77 A, 126 PTS) and top goal scorer Bobby Hull of Chicago (58 G, 49 A, 107 PTS). Esposito was first in goals and assists and won the Art Ross Trophy and took the Hart Memorial Trophy (MVP).
Side note: The Oakland Seals became the California Golden Seals for the 1970-71 season, who then became the Cleveland Barons for 1976-77 season. The Barons folded up their tents after the 1977-78 season.
The Kings, in Wayne Gretzky’s first year as a King, had to have this game in order to set up the deciding seventh game against the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions.
Led into the playoffs by the legendary Gretzky (54 G, 114 A, 168 PTS), Bernie Nicholls (70 G, 80 A, 150 PTS) and Luc Robitaille (46 G, 52 A, 98 PTS), the Kings’ leading playoff scorer that year was much lesser known—Chris Kontos.
Kontos, who scored his seventh goal of the series in this critical game, led all scorers for the entire playoffs with nine tallies.
The Kings’ win ended a 14-game home playoff game winning streak for the Oilers.
In a series punctuated by high drama and thrilling hockey, the underdog Kings (24-41-15) shocked the highly favored Edmonton Oilers (48-17-15) in a record-breaking playoff scoring barrage10-8 to take Game 1 of the series.
Kings head coach Don Perry later said, “It’s not what you call a typical playoff game, that’s for sure. You usually don’t win a shootout with Edmonton.”
To say this gave a jolt of confidence to the Kings would probably be a huge understatement.
Going into the series, the Kings were the team with the worst record among the playoff teams and faced the Gretzky-led Oilers, who had the second-best regular-season record behind the eventual Stanley Cup champion New York Islanders.
Gretzky (92 G, 120 A, 212 PTS) had his best offensive season in his career that season and took the Art Ross and Hart Memorial trophies.
The Kings, however, had some scoring punch of their own and were led by the “Triple Crown Line” of Marcel Dionne (50 G, 67 A, 117 PTS), Charlie Simmer (15 G, 24 A, 39 PTS) and Dave Taylor (39 G, 67 A, 107 PTS). They displayed their considerable offensive skill on this night as the trio tallied four goals.
Dionne (2 G, 1 A, 3 PTS) and rookie Daryl Evans (2 G, 2 A, 4 PTS) each had two goals for the Kings. Simmer scored the game-winner at 14:56 of the third period. The win was made even more remarkable as the Kings rallied from a 4-1 deficit from the mighty Oilers before taking a 5-4 lead in the second period. The game was tied at eight in the third before Simmer’s heroics.
Why wouldn’t a Stanley Cup win be ranked higher on this list?
Unfortunately, due in large part to “Stickgate,” this Stanley Cup finals win would be the only one in the series and up until now, the only one in Kings playoff history. That, and the win didn’t lead the team anywhere.
Game 2 would feature the crushing blow of Marty McSorley’s illegally curved stick leading to a game-tying power-play goal by Eric Desjardins. The game was subsequently decided by Desjardins' third goal of the game in overtime.
Nonetheless, at the time, you could say up until then, the Game 1 win was the biggest win in Kings playoff history. Looking back at it, its impact wasn’t as big as we would have hoped it would be.
The Kings grabbed a 1-0 series lead in Montreal backed by two goals from Luc Robitaille (including the game-winner) and goals from Jari Kurri and Gretzky (1 G, 3 A, 4 PTS).
The Kings eliminated the Canucks and advanced to the Smythe finals, where they eventually lost to the Oilers four games to two.
Dave Taylor scored the game-winner at 12:11 of the final period, and the Kings never looked back. Kelly Hrudey made 20 saves on 21 shots.
The Kings were led in the series by Wayne Gretzky (4 G, 6 A, 10 PTS) and Mike Donnelly (4 G, 3 A, 7 PTS).
Mike Krushelnyski scored the series-clinching goal 3:14 into the second overtime frame to crush the Flames and their hopes by winning the series 4-2.
One of the most ridiculous, clutch goals you will ever see, Krushelnyski swept the puck off the ice while being absolutely man-handled by a Flames defender while Krushelnyski was practically prone on the ice.
Steve Duchesne set up the drama with two third-period goals (including the game-tying tally with 1:43 remaining with to set up the drama). Duchesne ripped a slap shot from the right point, and Flames goalie Mike Vernon made the save, but he gave up a fat rebound in the slot.
Krushelnyski somehow corralled the rebound and with one arm, lifted it over a Kings and Flames player battling in front of the net. Flames goalie Mike Vernon missed getting the tip of his glove on the puck as he stretched out backwards trying to save the fluttering puck from entering his net.
Krushelnyski told the Associated Press in 1990, “This was a big win for our team. We executed well, we stuck with our game plan and went on top.”
The Kings (34-39-7) finished fourth in the Smythe Division on the season and again pulled another big series upset by taking down the Flames (42-23-15), who finished first in the Smythe and second in the NHL. The Kings outscored the Flames 29-24 in a high-scoring series that featured the two highest-scoring teams in the NHL (Flames first).
The Kings were led in the game by Duchesne and Gretzky’s one goal and two assists and in the series by Gretzky (2 G, 7 A, 9 PTS). Tony Granato (5 G, 3 A, 8 PTS) added an assist in the game and led the Kings in goals for the series.
The Kings bludgeoned the Flames for nine goals (three in each period) for the second game in a row and advanced to the division finals to face the Vancouver Canucks despite being out-shot in the game 42 to 23.
The series-clinching win was the first of three series wins en route to a Stanley Cup finals appearance and the most successful season in franchise history up to date.
Defenseman Rob Blake buried the go-ahead goal in the second period off a feed from Gretzky, who also scored a goal for the Kings.
Tomas Sandstrom added two tallies and an assist for the Kings, and Jarri Kurri (1 G, 3 A, 4 PTS), Tony Granato, Jimmy Carson, Dave Taylor and Corey Millen each added one.
Kings head coach Barry Melrose helped to spark the win by putting Kurri and Gretzky together on the same line for the first time on the season. Gretzky said of the pairing: "I haven't played out there with Jari all year, and it brought some well-needed electricity."
The Kings won the series by outscoring the Flames by a tally of 33 goals in six games to the Flames’ measly 28.
Kings goalie Robb Stauber made 36 saves on the night for the win.
The Kings capped off an improbable series comeback and eliminated the defending Stanley Cup champions by winning the elimination game 6-3. The Kings won three straight after falling behind in the series 3-1.
Bernie Nicholls led the Kings with two goals and two assists, and Wayne Gretzky added two goals and an assist to power the Kings to victory.
Dave Taylor told the Canadian Press in 1989, “This is as high as I’ve ever felt. I think we all envied the Lakers…they were up on a pedestal, and rightfully so after winning back-to-back championships…we all wished we could do that, win the Stanley Cup.”
Up to date, it has been the only time the Kings have come back from a 3-1 series deficit to prevail in a series. The Kings narrowly missed staging such a comeback in back-to-back years against the Colorado Avalanche in the 2001 Western Conference semis and the 2002 quarterfinals.
The Kings finished off the mighty Oilers in a monumental upset in the deciding fifth game behind two goals from Charlie Simmer and Dan Bonar.
The Kings jumped out to a quick 2-0 first-period lead behind Simmer’s tallies coming 2:58 apart. Edmonton’s Gretzky and Paul Coffey also scored in the first, but Marcel Dionne’s goal made it 4-2 at the end of two periods.
The Kings added two more goals in the second and one in the third to build an insurmountable 7-2 lead.
Daryl Evans (5 G, 8 A, 13 PTS for playoffs in 10 games) finished off an incredible series adding a goal, and Bernie Nicholls also scored for the Kings.
Kings goalie Mario Lessard was solid in net for the Kings, stopping 39 of 43 shots.
The Kings advanced to the Smythe finals but fell to the eventual Stanley Cup runners-up Vancouver Canucks four games to one. The Canucks were defeated in the finals by the New York Islanders, who won their third Cup in a row. The Isles would claim their incredible fourth in a row the next season.
I have a personal connection to this game as I remember vividly what I was doing when Gary Shuchuk scored the game-winner 6:31 into the second extra frame, putting the Canucks close to elimination.
I was warming up for a roller hockey game, and the game was being piped into the rink, and we all listened nervously as the Kings and Canucks battled deep into the game and into extras.
When Shuchuk scored the game-winning goal, and Kings radio announcer Nick Nickson went nuts with the call, so did everyone in our small arena that night. Needless to say, our team had a little extra jump in our step that night.
In the longest game in Kings history, Shuchuk ended the game after 86:31 of play on a feed from Luc Robitaille, who had corralled the puck behind Vancouver’s net after Canucks goalie Kirk McLean made a tough save on Jari Kurri.
Shuchuk, in front of and to the right of McLean, beat McLean through traffic after Robitaille’s pass.
After the game Shuchuk said, “I just took a shot and it went in. I give a lot of credit to Luc Robitaille. When he can make a pass like that, all you can do is hit the puck. That’s what I did.”
The Kings entered the second period with a 2-1 lead on goals from Gretzky and Kurri. Vancouver tied the game up in the stanza, but the Kings re-gained the advantage behind a Robitaille goal. However, the score was evened up again by a Trevor Linden tally still in the second frame.
For the next 52:51, the two teams would remain scoreless until Shuchuk sent the Vancouver fans home deflated.
Kings goalie Kelly Hrudey made 36 saves on 39 shots, and McLean stopped 40 of 44 attempts for the Canucks.
It is pretty doubtful that the seventh-seeded Kings (38-28-13, 92 PTS) would have gone on to win this series against the second-seeded and highly favored Red Wings (49-20-9, 111 PTS) had it not been for this epic comeback in the third period. The game would forever be known as “The Frenzy on Figueroa.”
The Kings were down in the series 2-1 and looked like they would be on the verge of elimination as they trailed 3-0 at Staples Center deep into the third period. Pat Verbeek scored in the first on a power play, and Steve Duchesne and Victor Kozlov scored power-play goals in the second and third periods, respectively, to seemingly put the game out of reach.
The Kings started mounting their frantic comeback at 13:53 of the third on a power-play goal by Scott Thomas.
Four minutes later, Jozef Stumpel made it a one-goal game when his shot directly to the right side of Wings goalie Chris Osgood deflected into the net.
Kings head coach Andy Murray gambled and pulled the goalie with two minutes left.
His gamble payed off when with 53 seconds left, Bryan Smolinski tied the game on a wrist shot and shockingly sent the game into overtime.
Eric Belanger (1 G, 1 A, 2 PTS) roofed a perfect shot over Osgood 2:36 into the extra frame to cap the dramatic and improbable comeback. Belanger received a perfect pass from Adam Deadmarsh in the corner to Osgood’s left.
“I don’t know why, but I believed we had a chance to come back all the time,” Luc Robitaille said. “I knew if we kept working, we’d get our breaks."
My favorite game on this list.
I was at this game at the Staples Center and was lucky enough to procure tickets that had me sitting about 10 rows back, mid-ice. Wow!!
Adam Deadmarsh put away the Wings, scoring the game-winning, series-clinching overtime goal 4:48 into overtime, finishing off their fourth win in a row after being down 2-0 in the series.
Deadmarsh, who also scored the game-tying goal 10:17 into the third, beat Detroit goalie Chris Osgood on a rebound after a Jozef Stumpel shot and sent my fellow Kings fans and myself home in an absolute frenzy and crushed the hopes of the highly favored and second-seeded Red Wings.
Stumpel added a goal (third of series) himself along with one more assist, and Deadmarsh had an assist to go with his two huge goals (his second and third goals of the series). Ziggy Palffy added two assists.
Pat Verbeek and Darren McCarty scored for the Wings.
Kings goaltender Felix Potvin saved 26 of 28 shots while Chris Osgood stopped 25 shots for the Wings.
The heavily favored Oilers raced out to a seemingly insurmountable 5-0 lead after the second period, largely due to two goals and two assists by Wayne Gretzky.
Kings rookie Daryl Evans described the cockiness the Oilers were displaying on the bench: “I remember seeing their faces on the bench, you know (Edmonton coach) Glenn Sather and all those guys, just those cocky little smirks. You just wanted to go over there and do something.”
Third period goals by Jay Wells and Doug Smith cut the lead to 5-2 and gave the Kings and their fans some hope. Charlie Simmer scored with about eight minutes left.
Kings TV announcer Bob Miller said, “When he (Simmer) scored to make it 5-3, you could feel in the building the feeling that maybe there’s a chance.” Hardy’s goal with four minutes left set up rookie Steve Bozek’s heroic, game-tying goal with five seconds left.
An unsung hero on this goal was current Kings TV color man, Jim Fox, who was in his second year as a Kings winger. Fox was the player added as the extra attacker after goalie Mario Lessard was pulled.
Fox stripped Gretzky of the puck at the faceoff dot to the left of Oilers netminder Grant Fuhr. Fox stepped in front of Gretzky and fed the puck to defenseman Mark Hardy at the point, who rifled a slap shot toward Fuhr, who made the save but gave up a rebound.
Bozek buried the rebound to tie the game with only five ticks remaining.
In 2:55 of overtime, the Kings got an end-zone faceoff. The Kings won the faceoff, and Evans stepped into a slap shot, beating Fuhr through a screen and capping off “The Miracle on Manchester.” It was Evans' fourth goal of the series in only three games.
Hardy said about the shot: “It was like a rocket. It was one of the hardest shots I think I’ve ever seen, and Grant Fuhr didn’t have a chance on it.”
The Kings would go on to win the series in five games but fell to the Vancouver Canucks in five games in a best-of-seven series in the Smythe quarters.
The unbelievable win was and still is the biggest single-game comeback in Stanley Cup playoff history.
The Kings advanced to the then-Campbell Conference finals to face the Toronto Maple Leafs on the heels of this historic win by finishing off the Canucks and the series 4-2 at home.
This win beats out other more exciting wins because of the magnitude of the importance of the victory. It was the first time in franchise history that the Kings advanced to the conference finals.
The Kings, led by Gretzky’s goal and two assists, peppered Canucks goalie Kirk McLean for 50 shots. Kings defenseman Rob Blake started the scoring in the first off assists from Luc Robitaille and Tony Granato, but the Kings were overtaken by Vancouver’s two goals to make it 2-1.
The Kings responded on goals by Jari Kurri, Tomas Sandstrom and Warren Rychel to make the score 4-2. Gretzky added another to make it 5-2. Trevor Linden sliced the Kings lead to 5-3, but Vancouver couldn’t get any closer.
Kelly Hrudey made 25 saves on 28 shots in the win.
Wayne Gretzky scored the crucial game-winning, series-prolonging goal 1:41 into overtime with seven seconds remaining on a power play off a pass from Luc Robitaille, who had regained the puck from Leafs center Peter Zezel. Racing into Toronto’s zone, Tomas Sandstrom lost the puck to Zezel in the corner to the left of Leafs goalie Felix Potvin.
No. 99 beat Potvin for the game-winner right in front of the net.
The game was a classic back-and-forth affair that was typical of the entire series. The games were physical, brutal and hotly contested, but they showcased some highly skilled players in Gretzky, Robitaille and Jari Kurri for the Kings and Doug Gilmore and Dave Andreychuk for the Leafs.
The Leafs had gritty players in Gilmore and Wendel Clark, and the Kings matched them with guys like Marty McSorley and the skilled and hard-nosed Tony Granato.
Glen Anderson scored first only 57 seconds into the game. Sandstrom tied the game at one, but Clark netted his first of three goals to regain the lead at 2-1.
McSorley scored the first of three second-period power-play goals eight minutes into the second frame to notch it at two, and Darryl Sydor scored with a man advantage at 10:22 of the second stanza to give the Kings the first lead of the game. Robitaille (1 G, 3 A, 4 PTS) stretched the lead to two with the Kings third straight power-play goal.
Clark led the Leafs’ comeback in the third, scoring his second and third goals of his hat trick to tie the nail-biter at four.
Gretzky said of his goal: “It was a big goal, one I will always remember."
The Great One’s goal, the Kings’ fourth power-play goal of the game, set up the deciding seventh game to be played in Toronto two days later.
Wayne Gretzky displayed his outstanding talents for eight seasons as a member of the Los Angeles Kings, and this game was perhaps his greatest game as a King.
The Great One tallied his NHL record eighth career playoff hat trick in the biggest game in Kings history and almost single-handedly eliminated the Maple Leafs in the deciding seventh game and took the Kings to the Stanley Cup finals for the first and only (to date) time in franchise history.
The Kings jumped out to a 2-0 lead after the first period on a short-handed tally from Gretzky and a goal by Tomas Sandstrom assisted by No. 99.
Wendell Clark and Glenn Anderson’s goals tied the game up at two in the second period, but Gretzky's second of the game regained the lead at 3-2 halfway into the second frame. Clark, capping off an amazing series of his own in a losing effort, again tied the score with his second of the game, but Mike Donnelly buried the game-winner with a little under four minutes left, and Gretzky provided insurance 37 seconds later and completed his hat trick to make it 5-3.
Dave Ellet made it scary with a little over a minute left to get within one, but Kings goalie Kelly Hrudey (25 saves on 29 shots) withstood the late charge to ice the win.
Gretzky told the Associated Press in 1993, “I’ve played 14 years in this league, and I didn’t want to be remembered as a guy who didn’t play well in the Stanley Cup semifinals in Toronto. I don’t think I’ve ever had this much personal satisfaction from winning a series.”
Kings coach Barry Melrose gushed praise for the Great One and told the Associated Press following the game, “He’s the greatest player in the game and people who say he isn’t are nuts.”
Barry, you will get no argument from me.
I hope you enjoyed reliving some unbelievable Kings playoff wins.
I welcome any comments you have and your experiences with these and any other games I may have omitted.
Thanks for reading!