ST. PAUL -- It was another opportunity squandered.
The Edmonton Oilers wanted to be in a position where yesterday's final game of a two-week road trip meant something.
It did. But after losing 4-1 it now means the Oilers are nine points back of the Minnesota Wild in the chase for a playoff spot, and seven back of the Calgary Flames, who now have a game in hand and hold the final playoff spot.
"We can't get too down on the outcome of the game," said Oilers forward Fernando Pisani. "Obviously we wanted a different outcome, but at the same time we have another game on Tuesday and we can't let this loss weigh us down.
"If we come home and have a strong homestand it's another story again."
Had the Oilers been able to pull out a regulation victory yesterday, they would have clawed themselves within five points of the Wild in the Western Conference standings.
A PLAYOFF SPOT
And with four games left against them, a playoff spot would still be in their hands.
Now the Oilers are going to need some help. Even if they sweep the next four games against the Wild, they can't catch them in the standings.
Yesterday's game was the last of a season-long seven- game road trip for the Oilers. They finished the trip with a 2-3-1-1 record, picking up six points in the process.
However, the Wild picked up nine points during the two weeks the Oilers were on the road.
"You don't want to look for excuses," Pisani said. "When you're on a two-week road trip it wears on you. At the same time we know what's at stake and we have to come out.
"I thought we played pretty good for the most part. We just didn't get any bounces. I thought we had some good chances, it was just a matter of bearing down on them."
Todd White opened the scoring for the Wild in the first period, redirecting a pass in front past Oilers goaltender Dwayne Roloson.
White was left unattended in front of the net as players tangled in the corner.
Late in the second, a seeing-eye wrist shot by Brent Burns on the power play extended the Wild lead.
Pisani pulled one back for the Oilers seven minutes into the third, but it was as close as they would get.
Marian Gaborik scored the insurance marker on a two-on-one less than a minute later.
Pierre-Marc Bouchard added an empty netter.
"Jan (Hejda) got a little anxious on the pinch on their third goal," MacTavish said.
"He got caught down there a little bit in between. But it's a decision made on trying to press for the goal and you can't fault him for that.
"He got caught and the two guys you don't want to have in that situation are in that situation."
Apart from losing the game, the Oilers also lost defenceman Ladislav Smid who was hit by Derek Boogaard and left the game in the first period.
'DID HIS JOB'
"Boogaard did his job tonight," MacTavish said.
"It was a knee on thigh hit. He extended his knee, and they missed it and we lose a defenceman in the process.
"Smid is a guy that was playing pretty well for us. Boogaard will probably be asking for a raise."