What might have been

Edmonton Oilers forward Jarret Stoll kneels on the ice following the Carolina Hurricanes Stanley...

Edmonton Oilers forward Jarret Stoll kneels on the ice following the Carolina Hurricanes Stanley Cup win on Monday night. (Edmonton Sun/Darryl Dyck)

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:55 AM ET

RALEIGH, N.C. -- In Raleigh, North Carolina, they had a parade around the parking lot of the RBC Center last night.

They're still finalizing the six-block parade route for downtown today.

In Edmonton, the Oilers disembarked a plane pondering what could have been.

A playoff run that lasted so long and went so far came to such a heartbreaking end on Monday.

"We battled right to the bitter end and we can't be disappointed at all," said Oilers forward Jarret Stoll. "Obviously it's tough to take, very tough to take when you're so close.

"We have to take positives out of this whole experience. It was a great experience for a lot of us - the veteran guys on this team, the younger guys like myself."

There were so many positives and so many special moments along the Oilers' playoff run. In the following days, the Oilers will be able to look back and feel proud of their accomplishments.

PRIDE TAKES A BACK SEAT

Right now, pride is taking a back seat to disappointment.

A sense of accomplishment is being overshadowed by the lament of a golden opportunity squandered.

"Every single guy contributed to get us to this point, all seven defencemen, all four lines, our three goaltenders," Stoll said. "There is not one guy that didn't do his part. It's just tough to take. We have to take some positives out of this experience and learn from it.

"It was a great ride, it was a lot of fun, it was just tough to end it like this."

After all the Oilers had overcome during this playoff run, it appeared they were going to pull through on Monday as well.

Heading into the game, they were actually being touted to win after battling back from a 3-1 series deficit.

But spurred on by a raucous home crowd, the Hurricanes scored early, and then took a two-goal lead in the second period.

When Fernando Pisani scored to pull the Oilers within a goal in the third period, there wasn't a person on the visitors' bench in the RBC Center who didn't believe the tying goal was on its way.

"We just couldn't find a way to get it to overtime," Stoll said.

"That's all we wanted to do was get it into overtime, maybe regroup in the dressing room and come out and try and win the game. But (Ward) made some good saves and you have to give credit to him."

Ward, the Sherwood Park native, was named the Conn Smythe trophy winner, beating the team he grew up cheering for.

It was only the second time the Oilers have failed to win the Stanley Cup after making the final. The other was in 1983.

LOOKED SO PROMISING

"It was devastating. We truly believed that we were invincible," said Oilers forward Ethan Moreau. "We thought all along that we could overcome any adversity. It looked like we were going to do it and it was the first time we felt short all year."

During their playoff run, the Oilers learned a lot about each other. They grew to trust each other and bonded as a team.

"That's why it would have been so special if we had won," Moreau said.

"I can convincingly say I will never play with a group of guys like that again. It will just never happen.

"I have played long enough to know how tight our group was and how much everybody cared about each other."

"I can't say enough about how proud I am of our team, the way we played and the never-say-die attitude," said defenceman Chris Pronger.

"We very easily could have folded the tent at 2-0 and we came out and stormed them and had a number of great opportunities to tie it up but we were unable to."


Photos