'The Miracle On Manchester', The Biggest Comeback In Stanley Cup Playoffs History, Was 38 Years Ago Today

The miracle referenced in the hed took place on Manchester Boulevard in Inglewood, CA in 1982. The Edmonton Oilers were at the Forum playing the Los Angeles Kings in Game Three of their best-of-five 1st round match-up in the Stanley Cup Playoffs (aka the Division Semis).

"You sthaid...sthemi...heh-heh..."

After splitting the first two games, the Gretzky/Messier/Kurri goal cartel headed into the third period with a 5-0 lead and was perfectly poised to take a 2-1 series lead and get one step closer to playing the winner of Vancouver/Calgary. Now, coming back from a 5-0 deficit in today's NHL is still impressive but if/when it happens, it's not a total shock. 

Coming back from down by five goals heading into the third? In 1982? Against a team that you went 1-5-2 versus during the season? During a divisional playoff battle? Against the best player in the world and his budding dynasty? That's a different can o' worms. And the gold-and-poiple* pulled it off. 

After Steve Bozek's power play marker tied the game with just five seconds left, Daryl Evans's fourth goal of the series 2:35 into OT gave the Kings the 2-1 series lead and sent the Forum crowd into delirium (also, the cocaine sent the Forum crowd into delirium). Though the Kings failed to close out the series at home in Game 4, they went into Edmonton for Game 7 and hung a seven-spot on future HHOFer Grant Fuhr to win the series. 

As for their flight to Edmonton? Yeah, about that (from Mike Commito on NHL.com). 

It was a comeback that no one could have anticipated, perhaps even by some within the Kings' organization. With many thinking the Oilers were going to eliminate the Kings in Los Angeles, the team had supposedly made no travel arrangements should the series need a fifth and deciding game.

The Oilers, on the other hand, would need to return to Edmonton regardless, either to return home to prepare for their next round opponent or to host the Kings for the final matchup. 

So, when the fourth game went in Oilers' favor, knotting the series at two games apiece, the Kings were woefully unprepared to get to Edmonton. Unable to charter their own plane or book a commercial flight, the Kings ended up sharing an aircraft with the Oilers.

"I don't think there was a lot of preparation, both teams didn't think we'd be going back to Edmonton for game five. I think it was a little last minute preparation," suggested Evans. "That might have been the quietest flight I've ever been on," he added. 

When Jay Wells hopped on the plane, he was disgruntled to see the Oilers had already boarded. "I remember one thing, they got on the plane first, they took the back seats so I was really mad about that," Wells divulged. 

Meanwhile, Bernie Nicholls saw the humor in the bizarre situation. "That was hilarious. They never dreamed we'd be going back. They never got a plane for us," Nicholls said. 

"If you can imagine, you just battled in the playoffs and the winner of the next game goes on and there's both teams sitting together on a plane. Never dreamed that would ever happen," he laughed. 

That's pretty funny shit and par for the NHL course in 1982.

The Kings then lost in the next round to the Canucks in five in a series that had four one-goal games. The Canucks then steamrolled the Chicago Blackhawks in five and headed into the franchise's first Stanley Cup Final with an 11-2 record before being unceremoniously swept by the dynasty on Long Island. It was the third of four staight Stanley Cup wins for the New York Islanders.

Though the Kings may have ultimately become just another one of the many teams that end up coming up short in an NHL season, they did so while changing the record book. Their third period comeback from a 5-0 deficit is still the largest single-game comeback in Stanley Cup Playoffs history. For now. 

Here's a condensed version:

And if you really want to kill time, here's the entire game:

Thanks to my buddy Mike Commito for helping me out with some of the info. If you're an NHL fan and dig league history, definitely toss him a follow. His book 'Hockey 365: Daily Stories From The Ice' is like a cool diary of random puck history, a fact-a-day calendar on steroids if you will. Some huge news, some obscure, all interesting. 

*---I wrote 'poiple' just so I could post this GIF...