Canucks-Kings playoff history goes way back

The Vancouver Canucks and the Los Angeles Kings haven't faced each other in the post-season in 17 years, but they engaged in three memorable playoff battles in just over a decade.

Goaltender Kirk McLean of the Vancouver Canucks had to face Wayne Gretzky and the Los Angeles Kings twice in the playoffs. ((Ken Levine/Getty Images)) takes a look at the NHL teams meeting in the first round of the 2010 playoffs that have significant history of post-season series against each other.

The Vancouver Canucks and the Los Angeles Kings haven't faced each other in the playoffs in 17 years, but they engaged in three memorable battles in just over a decade.


Vancouver wins Smythe Division final, 4-1

Vancouver finished with 77 points in the regular season but made a magical run to the 1982 Stanley Cup final, which included a series win in the second round over the Los Angeles Kings.

Assistant coach Roger Neilson took over behind the Vancouver bench with five games left in the season after Harry Neale was suspended by the league for an altercation with a fan.

After sweeping Calgary, Gary Lupul of the Canucks broke a tie early in the third period in a 3-2 series-opening win over Los Angeles, with Ivan Hlinka scoring the other two goals.

The Canucks were facing the vaunted Triple Crown line in the series, and while Dave Taylor and Marcel Dionne scored in Game 2, it was rookie Steve Bozek with the overtime winner for the Kings.

The Canucks looked to be going down a game until late in the third period of Game 3, when they got a tying goal from Stan Smyl. That set up the winner just 23 seconds into overtime from Colin Campbell.

Campbell, now the NHL's disciplinarian, hadn't scored all season but the overtime goal in the 4-3 win was his second of the game.

Ivan Boldirev put the Canucks in a commanding lead with two goals and an assist in a 5-4 win in Game 4, with Darcy Rota scoring a pair of second-period goals on Kings goalie Mario Lessard in a 5-2 series clincher.

As always that spring, (King) Richard Brodeur was between the pipes. Vancouver beat Chicago before losing to the mighty New York Islanders in the final.


Los Angeles wins Smythe Division semifinal, 4-2

Vancouver enters the playoffs despite earning just 65 points, the lowest of all NHL teams to qualify. Los Angeles is the Smythe Division winner and a Cup contender.

But the Canucks give a sign of the battle to come in the opener. Geoff Courtnall, acquired before the trade deadline, scores a hat trick and Cliff Ronning marks the winner late in the third in a 6-5 victory.

The Canucks threaten to go ahead by two games in Los Angeles, but Wayne Gretzky scores early in overtime of Game 2 for a series tie.

Ronning thrills the home crowd in Vancouver in Game 3 by lifting a backhander over Kelly Hrudey for his second goal of the game just over three minutes into overtime to give the Canucks a 2-1 series lead.

Kirk McLean, who hadn't played in six weeks, had a shutout going until Gretzky scored in the third period.

Gretzky scored his NHL record 92nd playoff goal in the first period of the next game to break a 1-1 tie. The Kings kept rolling, with Steve Duchesne beating McLean on a penalty shot in the third in a 6-1 thumping.

Vancouver scored two power-play goals and a short-handed marker as Game 5 with the Kings was tied 4-4 in the second, but the Kings broke it open. Luc Robitaille scored two of his eight goals during the series as the Kings fired 39 shots on Canucks goalie Troy Gamble.

Gretzky sets up four of his team's goals in the contest.

The Canucks were tied with the Kings 1-1 until late in the third period in Game 6 when veteran Dave Taylor snapped a tie. Mike Donnelly scored into an empty net — twice — in the 4-1 series clincher.

The Kings' troubles were a sign of what was to come as they bowed out in the next round against Edmonton.


Los Angeles wins Smythe Division final, 4-2

This time the Canucks were the division winners and the Kings were the team with modest expectations, having finished sixth in the Campbell Conference.

Five Canucks scored in the opener, with Courtnall and Dixon Ward getting Vancouver on track with power play goals in the first in the 5-2 result.

The Kings would pour in 13 goals over the next two games to take the series lead.

Vancouver held a 2-1 lead late in the second period of Game 3 on goals from Courtnall and Anatoli Semenov, but Warren Rychel scored in the final minute for Los Angeles. That spurred the Kings, who scored five goals in the final period of a 7-4 win.

The Canucks turned the tables to even the series, with Courtnall and Gerald Diduck each scoring a goal and two assists in a 7-2 rout.

In a series with big names, it was Kings rookie Gary Shuchuk who irrevocably turned the tide in Game 5, scoring the 4-3 winner at 6:31 of the second overtime.

Vancouver led 2-1 in the next game, but Jari Kurri and Tomas Sandstrom scored as the Kings poured 50 shots on McLean in a 5-2 win to wrap the series.

Gretzky, who missed half the regular season with a back injury, finished with a franchise record for one series, 13 points. Defenceman Rob Blake and Marty McSorley each scored four goals.

The Kings found their way to the Stanley Cup final, with the Canucks reaching that level the following spring.