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Most memorable moments in Kings history

Los Angeles celebrates 50th anniversary during home opener Friday vs. Flyers

by John Kreiser @jkreiser7713 / Managing Editor

The Los Angeles Kings will celebrate their 50th anniversary on Friday when they host the Philadelphia Flyers at Staples Center.

It's the home opener for the Kings, who have come a long way since defeating the Flyers 4-2 to win their NHL debut. As they prepare for their milestone season, here are 10 of the most memorable moments in Kings history.

June 11, 2012: Kings reign!

Los Angeles went from 1967 to 2011 with just one trip to the Stanley Cup Final, a five-game loss to the Montreal Canadiens in 1993. That all changed in 2012, when the Kings won their first championship by defeating the New Jersey Devils in six games. The Kings won the first three games of the Final, as they had done in each of the three previous rounds. They lost Games 4 and 5, but put an emphatic stamp on the first championship in the franchise's 45-year history with a 6-1 victory at Staples Center in Game 6.

"They've been waiting longer than I have, this city," said captain Dustin Brown, who accepted the Cup from NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. "You dream of winning the Cup, and you know what, I'm glad I was the first King to ever lift it."

June 13, 2014: Champions again

The Kings needed seven games to win each of their first three playoff series, starting with a comeback from a 3-0 deficit to defeat the San Jose Sharks. Los Angeles won the first three games of the Cup Final against the New York Rangers before losing Game 4. As they had done all spring, the Kings had to come from behind in Game 5; New York led 2-1 entering the third period, but Marian Gaborik's goal with 12:04 remaining sent the game to overtime. Defenseman Alec Martinez gave the Kings their second championship in three seasons when he scored on a rebound at 14:43 of the second overtime.

The 26 games played by the Kings were most ever by a Cup-winning team.

"We made it a little hard on ourselves, but all you have to do is win," center Jeff Carter said. "It doesn't matter how you do it."

Video: 2014 Cup Final, Gm5: Kings dash NYR Cup hopes in 2OT

April 10, 1982: Miracle on Manchester

The Kings qualified for the 1982 Stanley Cup Playoffs despite going 24-41-15. That earned them a first-round matchup against the powerful Edmonton Oilers, the Smythe Division champions and top offense in the NHL. The teams split two games in Edmonton, but the Oilers appeared to have Game 3 locked up when they took a 5-0 lead after the second period, laughing at the Kings as they headed off the ice. But that laughter served as motivation for the Kings, who scored twice in the first 5:58 of the third period. Charlie Simmer's goal at 14:38 made it 5-3. Defenseman Mark Hardy scored at 15:59, and Steve Bozek put in a rebound past Grant Fuhr with five seconds remaining to force overtime. Doug Smith's faceoff win set up Daryl Evans for a slap shot that beat Fuhr 2:35 into overtime for the win.

"I remember coming out after I was announced as the first star of the game," Evans said years later. "It seemed like I was skating on air. I was in a state I had never been in and probably will never be in again."

Oct. 15, 1989: Gretzky passes Howe

On a night worthy of a Hollywood script, Wayne Gretzky tied and then passed Gordie Howe's career record for most points - and he did it in front of the fans who used to cheer for him at Northlands Coliseum. Gretzky tied Howe's record with a first-period assist that was his 1,850th point, then passed him by scoring the game-tying goal with 53 seconds remaining in the third period.

The game was stopped for 15 minutes for a ceremony that included Howe and Gretzky's parents. In one of the most touching moments, Gretzky hugs longtime Edmonton teammate Mark Messier, who had reached out to shake his hand.

"We both started to get a little choked up," Gretzky said. "He was excited for me, but down deep he was upset that we tied the game. He would have been happier for me if they were winning."

When play resumed, Gretzky capped his evening by scoring at 3:24 of overtime to give the Kings a 5-4 victory.

May 29, 1993: Gretzky carries Kings to Final

Five years after joining the Kings, Gretzky got them to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time with one of the greatest performances of his career.

The Kings forced the Campbell Conference Final to a seventh game when Gretzky's overtime goal gave them a 5-4 victory against the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 6. But that was just a warmup for his performance in the deciding game at Maple Leaf Gardens. He scored a shorthanded goal in the first period to give the Kings a 1-0 lead, got his second goal of the game at 10:30 of the second period to make it 3-2, and scored what proved to be the winning goal at 16:46 of the third period. It gave the Kings a 5-3 lead and enabled them to survive a late goal by Toronto's Dave Ellett for a 5-4 win that put Los Angeles into the Final for the first time.

"I've played 14 years, and I did not want to be remembered as the guy who didn't play well in the semifinals versus Toronto," a smiling Gretzky said. "This isn't pressure. It's fun to play in a game like this."

Video: 1993 Conf Final, Gm7: Gretzky's trick: LA to Final

Oct. 6, 1988: Gretzky's debut a smash hit

The acquisition of Gretzky from the Oilers on Aug. 9, 1988, was a turning point for the Kings, who had struggled to win and attract attention in a crowded sports market. All that changed when The Great One stepped onto the ice in a Kings jersey. A sellout crowd packed the Forum for his first game with the Kings and was rewarded with a typical Gretzky performance: He scored a goal on his first shot with his new team and finished with a goal and three assists in an 8-2 victory against the Detroit Red Wings.

"If we win 8-2 every night, I'll be satisfied," Gretzky said. "Playing was easy. I was nervous when I went out there and was introduced. I didn't want to fail."

April 30, 2014: Comeback completed

The Kings appeared to be headed for an early summer when they lost the first three games of their Western Conference First Round series to the San Jose Sharks. Instead of rolling over, they completed what's likely to be the most famous four-game winning streak in Los Angeles history to become the fourth team to win a playoff series after trailing 3-0. Game 7 turned into a blowout when the Kings scored three times in the third period of a 5-1 victory. Anze Kopitar put the Kings ahead for good late in the second period.

"This is something we're all going to remember for the rest of our lives," said defenseman Drew Doughty, who started the run of five unanswered goals by tying the game at 4:57 of the second period.

Oct. 14, 1967: No jitters on opening night

It's appropriate that the Kings are beginning their 50th season against the Flyers, because Philadelphia was the visiting team for their first NHL game. The crowd of 7,035 at Long Beach Arena (the Forum was still under construction) saw the Flyers take a 2-0 lead after one period before the Kings rallied for a 4-2 victory. Brian Kilrea scored the first goal in Los Angeles history by beating Doug Favell 3:20 into the second period, and his empty-net goal with 16 seconds remaining capped a three-goal third period. Wayne Rutledge made 13 saves.

Kilrea, who went on to become one of the most successful coaches in the history of junior hockey and earned induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame as a builder in 2003, joked to the Ottawa Citizen in 2012 that "It's the one record Wayne Gretzky couldn't break."

June 1, 2014: 21 is Kings' lucky number

The Kings had to play the maximum 21 games to get through the first three rounds of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The 21st might have been the hardest: Los Angeles had to rally three times before defeating the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks 5-4 in Game 7 of the Western Conference Final. The Kings trailed 2-0, 3-2 and 4-3, but Gaborik scored the tying goal with 7:17 remaining in the third period, and Martinez got the series-winner 5:47 into overtime when his shot from the left point hit Chicago defenseman Nick Leddy and floated past goaltender Corey Crawford.

"Deep down, we definitely felt we could do this," Kopitar said. "Coming from behind the whole game, being in a loud rink. Chicago's playing good. To get it done really shows the character we have in this room and that really is priceless."

Dec. 30, 1967: The 'Fabulous Forum' opens

After spending the first 2 ½ months dividing home dates between the Long Beach Arena and Los Angeles Sports Arena, the Kings opened their new arena, the Forum. The nationally televised game drew 14,366 fans, most of whom went home disappointed when the Kings lost 2-0 to the Flyers. But the building, soon dubbed the "Fabulous Forum" by owner Jack Kent Cooke, opened to rave reviews, and the Kings played there for 32 years until leaving for Staples Center before the 1999-2000 season.

"The Forum is easily the most beautiful of its kind anywhere, including the new Madison Square Garden in New York," said Cooke, who also owned the NBA's Los Angeles Lakers. "This place is so beautiful it is breathtaking.

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