In two games last month against the Edmonton Oilers, the Kings were almost laughable.
It was more of the same through the first period Tuesday night at the Forum, where they fell two goals behind in the first 17 minutes 26 seconds.
"Everything was going so well in the first period, I think we thought it might be a cakewalk," said John Muckler, co-coach of the Oilers.
This time, however, the Kings got the last laugh on the defending Stanley Cup champions, rallying from a 3-1 deficit to gain a 4-4 tie before a crowd of 11,393.
The Kings had a potential game-winning goal by Paul Fenton taken away with 9:20 left when it was ruled that Fenton's stick was above his shoulder when a shot by Jay Wells deflected off of the stick and into the net.
And a shot by Jimmy Carson with about three minutes left in regulation ricocheted hard off the right post.
Still, Carson said: "We can't be upset with this because Edmonton is a great team. We forechecked, we were all over them."
Said Coach Mike Murphy: "You can outplay Edmonton all night long and not win the game because they can really score."
But in the last 47 1/2 minutes, after they opened a 3-1 lead, all the Oilers could manage was a goal by Mark Messier with 17:04 left in regulation that tied the score, 4-4.
"We made a few errors in that first period that were unforced," Murphy said. "We gave the puck away. Without those errors, we win the game."
Although they, too, had their chances to win, the Oilers seemed relieved to escape with a five-game unbeaten streak intact.
"L.A. played really well," Muckler said. "If they continue to play like that, they'll be a threat."
Said Wayne Gretzky, who did not have a shot on goal: "They just seemed to be everywhere. They were checking really well. They kept us clogged up."
Bob Carpenter gave the Kings a 4-3 lead with 19:22 left, scoring on a wrist shot from the top of the left circle.
The Oilers tied it after Glenn Anderson stole a pass at the Oilers' blue line and passed it ahead to Jari Kurri. Kurri and Messier worked the 2-on-1 breakaway perfectly, Messier taking a pass from Kurri in the right circle and firing a shot past goaltender Rollie Melanson.
With less than 10 minutes left, Fenton scored the goal that was immediately disallowed.
"You always like to think it's legal, but the referee decided it wasn't and the referee always wins," Fenton said. "It's a judgment call, and that's the way he called it."
Carson's shot beat Edmonton goaltender Grant Fuhr but was slightly off the mark.
"I got a great shot off and I had him beat," said Carson, who took a pass from Dave Taylor along the right side. "It just hit the inside of the post. It's unfortunate, but I'm sure I'll get my share of goals this season that I don't deserve."
The Oilers seemed to go flat after jumping out to the early lead. They were outshot in the second period, 12-5, as the Kings tied the game.
Taylor cut the Kings' deficit to 3-2 with 1:33 left in the first period after retrieving the rebound of his own shot behind the net.
He passed behind the net to Carson, took a return pass and quickly jammed the puck into the lower right corner of the net as Fuhr scrambled in vain to get back into position.
At 8:14 of the second period, Carson put in a rebound of a shot by Steve Duchesne to tie the score, 3-3.
Duchesne stepped in front of a clearing pass, knocking the puck to the ice and taking a shot that kicked out to Carson, who beat Fuhr for his first goal in five games and 10th overall.
Edmonton scored on a similar play just 1:41 into the game. Kevin McClelland used his chest to knock down a clearing pass by Mark Hardy, then shot the puck high into the net past Melanson.
The Kings tied it on a shot from the slot by Tim Tookey, who took a perfect pass from Fenton, who chased down the puck in the right corner.
With 5:26 left in the period, Edmonton's Jim Wiemer took an errant centering pass by Gretzky off the boards along the left side and fired a shot from just inside the blue line that sailed into the upper right corner of the net.
Dave Hunter gave the Oilers a 3-1 lead with 2:34 left in the period, knocking into the net a rebound of a shot by Normand Lacombe.
Melanson, in disgust, broke his stick, slamming it to the ice.