The Edmonton Oilers are out of the playoffs for the third straight year, as they fell 2-1 to the visiting Los Angeles Kings at Rexall Place on Tuesday.
The loss, coupled with St. Louis' victory over Phoenix later the same night, officially eliminated the Oilers from post-season play.
The Kings scored two goals four minutes into the game, with Alexander Frolov and Wayne Simmonds giving L.A. (33-36-11) all the offence it needed.
Jonathan Quick stood tall in the Kings net, making 38 saves as Edmonton (37-34-9) threw everything it had at him to try and tie the game.
"The last two games are going to be tough to play," Oilers forward Sam Gagner said. "It's a pretty bad feeling in here after coming into this season really excited to get it going, and then hovering around the middle of the pack for a while and faltering in the end. It's a tough thing to deal with."
Oiler goalie Dwayne Roloson made 27 saves in Edmonton's net.
The Oilers' best chance to even the score came with about seven minutes left to go in the game.
Winger Ethan Moreau thought he had a wide-open net after receiving a perfect cross-crease pass, but with Quick down and out he hit the post, and the Kings goalie covered the loose puck soon after.
"We faltered at the worst possible time of the year," Moreau said. "The last couple weeks we didn't get the results, regardless of how we played. We put ourselves in a position of having to win games. It's very disappointing."
Too many bullets to dodge
The Oilers dodged a bullet earlier Tuesday when Chicago defeated the Predators 4-2, temporarily keeping them alive in the playoff hunt. But when the Blues defeated Phoenix 5-1 later that night, it meant the end of Edmonton's post-season dream.
"We just didn't have any jump at all at the start," Oilers coach Craig MacTavish said. "It was just a terrible start, virtually from everybody."
The Oilers went 0-for-3 on the man-advantage. Los Angeles didn't have a power play all night.
Instead of jumping on a team that was already out of the playoffs, Edmonton found itself on the back foot early on.
The slow start cost the team dearly. Kings winger Frolov took a shot from the point that went through Roloson for his 31st of the year just 55 seconds into the game.
L.A. pounced on the Oilers again soon after, when Simmonds scored at 3:46 to put the Kings up 2-0, stunning the home crowd.
Edmonton came out with much more firepower in the second, as the Oilers outshot the Kings 19-7.
Edmonton's hard work finally paid off at 16:29 of the second. A faceoff win went back to the point and defenceman Denis Grebeshkov fired it on the L.A. goal, where it was deflected by Fernando Pisani for his seventh of the season.
Little bit of luck
The Oilers had some luck go their way in the waning seconds of the second. Frolov knocked down Roloson while the Kings forward was jostling with Edmonton defenceman Sheldon Souray in front of the net. Anze Kopitar then seized the puck, but could only hit the crossbar with Roloson down and out.
With desperation sinking in, Edmonton threw everything at the Kings net in the third, outshooting L.A. 14-8 in the period and 33-15 over the final 40 minutes, but the Oilers could only get one goal past Quick.
"We talked about finishing out the year strong," Kings defenceman Matt Greene said. "These last three games are huge for us. We're just trying to make sure we... are playing hard.
"It's just part of the game," the former Oiler added. "We're going for points here, we're not going to lie down for anybody. Just another game for us."
Three fights punctuated Tuesday's proceedings. L.A.'s Brian Boyle tussled with Oiler Theo Peckham and Kings defenceman Jack Johnson battled Edmonton forward Dustin Penner in the first period.
Heavyweights Zack Stortini of the Oilers and L.A.'s Raitis Ivanans also dropped their gloves in the second.