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Kings Pull Triple-Triple


On April 10, 1982, the Kings won the memorable Miracle on Manchester game.

Tuesday, on the eighth anniversary of that event, came the Massacre on Manchester.

The Kings scored early, often and with record efficiency to whip the Calgary Flames, 12-4, before a sellout Forum crowd of 16,005, giving the Kings a three-games-to-one lead in their best-of-seven opening-round playoff series.

The 12 goals were the most the Kings had ever scored and the Flames had ever given up in a playoff game.

It also ties the Kings' all-time record for goals in any game.

Dave Taylor, Tony Granato and Tomas Sandstrom all had hat tricks, an NHL playoff record. Between them, they took only nine shots and made them all.

The enormity of the night can be illustrated by the fact that the Kings had only four previous playoff hat tricks in their entire history.

They played I Love L.A. so many times at the Forum Tuesday, it sounded like a Randy Newman concert.

The Kings' lightning attack was ignited by a pair of Flame penalties.

First, Al MacInnis was called for holding Jay Miller. Then, Ric Nattress received a double minor, for cross checking and unsportsmanlike conduct when he smacked John Tonelli after the King wing had already gone down.

Given a five-on-three advantage for a minute and 34 seconds, the Kings got off only two shots and both missed the mark.

But the Kings didn't let the opportunity totally slip away, finally scoring with a man advantage at the 6:38 mark. Todd Elik, controlling the puck behind the net, flipped it out on the left side to Taylor, who shoved it past goalie Mike Vernon's glove side just inside the right post.

Thus begun an incredible 5 minute, 17 second first-period explosion that produced four King goals on five shots.

After Elik's goal, the onslaught continued as follows:

--At 8:25, Granato scored his first goal of the night after Rob Blake, skating down the left side, appeared to get knocked off the puck by Doug Gilmour. Granato gained control and fired from the left circle. Vernon, screened by both a Flame and King, never saw the puck until it whizzed past his glove.

--At 11:06, Wayne Gretzky, coming in from the right side, passed across the middle under the glove of a diving Nattress to Sandstrom rushing the net from the left. Vernon had already come out on the right, leaving an open side for Sandstrom to smash the puck in.

That was it for Vernon, but not the Kings.

--At 11:55, with Rick Wamsley in goal, the Kings struck again. When MacInnis gave the puck away, Luc Robitaille left a drop pass for Elik in the slot. His shot was wide right, but Wamsley got a glove on it, knocking it down. That left it sitting on the ice on the right side where Dave Taylor quickly jumped on it for his second goal of the evening.

Talk about two teams heading in opposite directions. While the Kings were busy filling the net with pucks, the Flames were struggling to get a shot on goal.

They didn't get their first until 16 minutes and four seconds had elapsed.

The Kings added three more goals-Jay Miller's first and the second of the night for both Granato and Sandstrom-to expand the lead to a 7-0.

A team losing 7-0 doesn't need any added reminders that this was not its night, but Miller's goal provided undisputable proof the puck was bouncing the Kings' way.

From behind the Calgary goal, Miller took a shot that bounced off the net. Undaunted, he shoved the puck in front. It bounced off MacInnis' skate and rolled past Wamsley.

What are you going to do?

Calgary responded with a pair of goals in the space of 22 seconds to cut the margin to 7-2. Joel Otto got the first, Paul Ranheim the second.

The Kings came right back with a goal that gave them several reasons to celebrate anew.

For one thing, it increased their lead to 8-2.

For another, it was scored by Wayne Gretzky, his first since his back injury.

But, perhaps most importantly, the goal brought more cheering from the Kings' bench because it showed that Gretzky is all the way back.

It was said that his full range of motion would be the last thing to return in his recuperation from a hyperextension of the back.

Attempting to score from the right side, Gretzky was blocked by both Nattress and Wamsley, who both struggled to push him out of position.

But Gretzky held his ice, arched his back and, without looking, shoved the puck behind him, by both Nattress and Wamsley into the goal.

That puts Gretzky in the Magic Johnson range of motion.

Todd Elik also scored for the Kings, and Theoren Fleury and Joe Nieuwendyk closed out Calgary's scoring.

Was it really only a week ago that the Kings were thought to be heading to the slaughterhouse, facing the defending Stanley Cup champions without Wayne Gretzky?

The Flames can take solace from the fact that the series is not over yet.

But the only thing that gave them solace Tuesday night was knowing that Game Four was finally over.


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