They dug a hole, dove in head first, then spent the rest of the game trying to climb out of it.
It was an all too familiar story for the Edmonton Oilers and, in the end, it cost them a playoff spot.
Last night the Oilers were unable to make up for a bad start and went on to lose 2-1 to the Los Angeles Kings in a game they had to win to keep their faint playoff hopes alive. Less than an hour later, the St. Louis Blues officially knocked them out of the post-season with a 5-1 win over the Phoenix Coyotes.
"We just weren't able to capitalize," said Oilers captain Ethan Moreau. "I know myself, personally, I missed a couple of open nets. We were just unable to capitalize when we had some great chances to score. We just couldn't get the goal support for Roli tonight."
The Oilers got a serious case of stage fright early on and couldn't do anything right in the first period, falling behind 2-0.
Dwayne Roloson, the main reason the team still had something to play for, let in a rare soft goal, allowing the visitors to get on the board inside of a minute.
The Oilers goaltender whiffed on weak point-shot by Kings defenceman Alexander Frolov that slid under his pad.
The play set the tone of rest of the period as the Oilers, to a man, were fighting the puck and couldn't do anything right.
Less than three minutes later, Oilers defenceman Denis Grebeshkov had his pocket picked in front of the net by Michal Handzus. Roloson was able to make the initial save, but Wayne Simmonds deposited the juicy rebound.
Despite having a pair of power plays, the Oilers could not respond, struggling to gain control of the puck in the offensive zone, much less creating a scoring opportunity.
The Kings went on to outshoot the Oilers 14-6 in the period forcing the home side to do some serious regrouping.
"We were loose in the locker-room, we were ready to play, it's just one of those starts that you wish you could get back," said Oilers defenceman Tom Gilbert. "As coach (Craig) MacTavish calls it, once the omelette gets going, we have to calm down with the puck and we didn't do a very good job of that. We got off to a slow start that cost us the game."
In the second, the Oilers were able to find their skating legs, but their finish around the net left something to be desired. Despite firing 19 shots at Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick, the only Oilers shot that got past him banked in off defenceman Denis Gauthier.
Fernando Pisani was credited with the goal as he got his stick on the initial point shot from Grebeshkov.
The Oilers had dominated territorially to that point, but were not getting many bounces. The best chance prior to Pisani's goal came as Steve Staios leaned into a shot from the point.
Quick was able to get a piece of it, but could then only watch as it dribbled past him and just by the far post.
After the Oilers cut into the deficit, the Kings had a great opportunity to extend their lead, but Anze Kopitar hit the goalpost following a scramble in front of Roloson.
In the third, the Oilers played with the desperation reserved for a team on the brink of elimination, but unfortunately for them it wasn't enough.
As had been the case for most of the season, the Oilers could not come up with the tying goal when they most needed it.
"That's kind of a frame on the year that we've had, where we've put ourselves in position many times during the year, but we haven't been able to capitalize on that opportunity," said MacTavish. "It was indicative of a lot of nights where we just came up short.
The Oilers went into the contest needing a win to assure themselves another meaningful day. With the St. Louis Blues and Nashville Predators also in action, a loss, combined with a win by either of those clubs would have eliminated the Oilers from playoff contention.
The Predators lost to Chicago, but the Blues went on to win in Phoenix.
"Obviously it didn't just come down to this game, it was a matter of getting points earlier on," said Oilers centre Sam Gagner. "We put ourselves in this situation where every game was do or die and that's a tough thing to do. We dug ourselves this hole and it was a tough one to get out of."