Revisiting the Oilers & Kings’ Storied Playoff History

There was a time when it seemed like the Edmonton Oilers and Los Angeles Kings were destined to meet every spring in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. From 1982 to 1992, the two faced off in seven postseason series, and that includes playing each other every year between 1989 to 1992.

When Edmonton defeated Los Angeles in Game 6 of the Smythe Division Semi-Final on April 28, 1992 — winning the series 4-2 — no one would have ever guessed that it would be another three decades before the teams next faced off in the postseason.

Three decades and four days, to be precise.  

Related: Kings: 3 Keys to Defeating the Oilers in Round 1

On Monday, May 2, Edmonton will host Los Angeles for Game 1 of the first round of the 2022 NHL Playoffs, reviving one of the great postseason rivalries in Oilers history. Some of the Oilers’ most memorable and momentous playoff games have come against Los Angeles, and as Edmonton gets set for its eighth series with the Kings, here’s a look back at the previous seven.

1982 Smythe Division Semi-Final

The first postseason meeting between the Oilers and Kings will forever be remembered for the “Miracle on Manchester”, regarded by many as the greatest comeback in NHL history.

Goalie Grant Fuhr
Grant Fuhr, Edmonton Oilers (Photo by B Bennett/Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)

With the best-of-five series knotted at one game apiece, the teams squared off in a pivotal Game 3 at the Great Western Forum in Inglewood. Edmonton surged to a 5-0 lead after 40 minutes, only to watch the Kings score five unanswered goals in the third period, then complete the rally when Darryl Evans ripped the puck past Oilers netminder Grant Fuhr at 2:35 of overtime for the stunning 6-5 win.

Edmonton rebounded to win Game 4, 3-2, and bring the series back to Northlands Coliseum. But the Oilers were unable to take advantage of home ice in the deciding Game 5, falling 7-4 to the Kings, who won and took the series 3-2. It was a massive upset, as Edmonton had finished first in the Campbell Conference, 48 points ahead of the Kings.

1985 Smythe Division Semi Final

Three years after their Manchester meltdown, Edmonton was a much different team. Whereas the 1982 Oilers were still young and short on playoff experience, the 1985 version was coming off its first Stanley Cup victory a year prior, and was on the way to championship number two.

While this series ended in a 3-0 sweep for the Oilers, they still got plenty to handle from the Kings, with two of the three games going to overtime, including Game 3. Glenn Anderson scored the series-clinching goal for Edmonton just 46 seconds into sudden-death.

1987 Smythe Division Semi-Final

This was the first year of the NHL division semi-finals being a best-of-seven series, and after losing Game 1 to the Kings at home, 5-2, the Oilers reeled off four consecutive victories to capture the series in five games.

Following the opening loss, Edmonton made a statement in Game 2, setting an NHL record for most goals in a 13-2 win. The rest of the series was much closer, with the Oilers winning 6-5, 6-3, and 5-4.

Wayne Gretzky had 15 points in the series for the Oilers, who would go on to their third Stanley Cup championship triumph.

1989 Smythe Division Semi-Final

Two years later, the Great One was on the other side of the rivalry. Gretzky had been shockingly dealt to Los Angeles in the 1988 offseason, shaking the NHL at its foundation and ripping out Edmonton’s still-beating heart.

Such was the backdrop for the Oilers’ and Kings’ postseason meeting in spring 1989, a series that began with one juicy subplot and ended with another, as Los Angeles became at that time just the sixth team in NHL history to win a series after trailing 3-1.

Wayne Gretzky, Los Angeles Kings
Wayne Gretzky, Los Angeles Kings (Photo By Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images)

The Kings began their comeback with a 4-2 win at the Great Western Forum in Game 5, followed by a 4-1 victory in Edmonton to force a deciding game, before closing out the series with a 6-3 win back at home in Game 7.

In the next round, Los Angeles was beaten in four straight games by the eventual champion Calgary Flames, who swept the Smythe Division final.

1990 Smythe Division Final

One year after becoming the sixth team in NHL history to blow a 3-1 lead, the Oilers became the seventh to rally from a 3-1 deficit, knocking off the Winnipeg Jets in seven games in their 1990 Smythe Division Semi-Final.

The Oilers carried that momentum into the Division Final series and used it to ride roughshod over Los Angeles, sweeping Gretzky and Co. to avenge their loss 12 months earlier.

Edmonton opened the series with a pair of emphatic wins at home, 7-0 in Game 1 and 6-1 in Game 2. The Oilers then went into the Great Western Forum and won Game 3 5-4, before finishing the series off with a 6-5 victory in Game 4 when Joe Murphy scored the winning goal at 4:42 of overtime. The Oilers ultimately went on to win Stanley Cup No. 5.

1991 Smythe Division Final

For a second straight postseason Edmonton and Los Angeles played for the Smythe Division banner, and for the second year in a row, the Oilers prevailed, this time in six games.

In another bit of déjà vu, the series ended in overtime, when Craig MacTavish scored at 16:38 of the fourth period to lift Edmonton to a 4-3 win at Northlands Coliseum in Game 6. That was just one of four games that went to overtime in this closely contested series: Los Angeles won Game 1 in overtime, while Edmonton won Games 2 and 3 both in double overtime.

With the series win against Los Angeles, the Oilers advanced to the Campbell Conference championship, where they lost 4-1 to the Minnesota North Stars.

1992 Smythe Division Semi-Final

The most recent springtime clash between Edmonton and Los Angeles was also the first time the teams have been tied after four games in a best-of-seven series.

Esa Tikkanen Edmonton Oilers
Esa Tikkanen, Edmonton Oilers (Photo by Graig Abel/Getty Images)

The series stood at 2-2 after each won once in the other’s rink before Esa Tikkanen recorded a hat trick for Edmonton in a 5-2 win in Game 5, and goaltender Bill Ranford made 26 saves for the Game 6 shutout victory.

Edmonton went on to beat the Vancouver Canucks 4-2 in the division final, capturing the Smythe Division banner and moving on to the conference finals for the eighth time in 10 years. Since then, the Oilers have only been back to the conference championship series once, in 2006.

With the Oilers’ fantastic play in the second half of the season, going 26-9-3 under Jay Woodcroft after he took as head coach from the fired Dave Tippett on Feb. 10, there is great excitement and valid hope of a long playoff run in Oil Country. It starts Monday, in Game 1 at Rogers Place, with the first postseason meeting between the Kings and Oilers in 10,961 days.


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