VANCOUVER -- Top-line centre Daymond Langkow was lost to the Calgary Flames before the puck dropped.
Fellow key centre Craig Conroy was lost only a few minutes into the game.
Somewhere along the way, the Flames lost their focus, too. Now that playoff spot that seemed a foregone conclusion is on the verge of also being lost.
A golden chance to essentially put the struggling Vancouver Canucks too far in their rear-view mirror to matter turned into a debacle of a 6-2 loss last night.
Calgary (41-29-10) now sits seventh in the Western Conference chase and only two points ahead of the eighth-seeded Canucks (39-30-10). Both teams have three games remaining, including the season finale Saturday.
"Every team we play now is in the same position, we're all fighting to secure a playoff spot or get back in it," said Flames captain Jarome Iginla after the team's second consecutive loss. "These two loses, other teams get back in it, but you win two games and you move up. For us, we regroup, get some rest and get ready for Edmonton (Tuesday)."
Colorado is one point up on Calgary with one more game played, while Nashville and Edmonton are within striking distance as the season heads into its final days.
The Flames suffered a tough blow before the game began when Langkow returned home due to the death of his father-in-law.
The situation went from bad to worse when Conroy left the game early with a torso injury.
To make matters worse, the Flames allowed Vancouver's crew of agitators, such as Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows, to get under their skin and knock them off their game after taking the lead in the first period.
Check that, after twice taking the lead in the first period.
"You've got to play them physical, just that edge is a fine line and we took too many penalties," said Flames defenceman Robyn Regher
Before the announced gathering of 18,630 at GM Place, David Moss opened the scoring for Calgary 73 seconds after the puck dropped.
A Cory Sarich point shot went wide of the net and came all back out to Wayne Primeau near the blueline. He immediately fired a slapper toward the goal and Moss -- who had watched 19 of the last 20 games -- deflected the shot past Roberto Luongo.
It's just the third goal of the season for Moss, who's missed action due to three separate injuries this season.
Vancouver drew even with a Sami Salo powerplay goal just before the 12-minute mark.
Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff was staring at all kinds of traffic, even blocked by a couple of his teammates, when the hard-shooting Salo unloaded a rocket into the cage.
Then, to keep the excitement high, goals 27 seconds apart made it 2-2 before the opening period ended.
Calgary's powerplay regained the lead, albeit amidst some controversy as Jarome Iginla collided with Luongo in front of the net seconds before Matthew Lombardi snapped the puck past the distracted netminder for his 14th of the campaign.
But, again, the Canucks drew even because Kiprusoff couldn't contain Daniel Sedin's shot from the slot and Markus Naslund was able to push the loose puck home to earn his 25th of the season.
"That was my fault," Regehr said. "I made a bad decision trying to play the puck and those guys got behind me and scored the tying goal with less than a minute left.
"Anyone who watches hockey knows you give up a goal late like that it gives the other team momentum and we just never seemed to recover from that.
"It seemed like I was just making wrong decisions all night. I got scored on way too many times, every time I was out there it seemed we were getting scored on, and as a decision that's the last thing you want to happen."
Vancouver pulled away in a one-sided second period, sparked by a pair of goals by Trevor Linden.
The second tally, giving the Canucks a 4-2 lead, chased Kiprusoff from between the pipes, the victim of four goals on 13 shots, and brought Curtis Joseph into the game.
Joseph didn't fare a whole lot better, surrendering a Matt Pettinger tally less than six minutes into his night and then another to Brad Isbister in the first minute of the third period.