EDMONTON - Whatever slim hope the Edmonton Oilers had of making the playoffs was put on life support by Wayne Simmonds and the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday.
Then the St. Louis Blues pulled the plug. The Kings forward had a goal and an assist as Los Angeles beat Edmonton 2-1. Coupled with the Blues' 5-1 win over the Phoenix Coyotes later Tuesday, the Oilers are officially out of playoff contention.
Fernando Pisani had the lone goal for the Oilers (37-34-9) who started the game slowly with 19 first period giveaways.
"The last two games are going to be tough to play," said Oilers forward Sam Gagner.
"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."
The Oilers can blame themselves for missing out on the playoffs, losing seven of their last nine games.
"We faltered at the worst possible time of the year," said captain Ethan Moreau. "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."
Alexander Frolov also scored for the Kings who have won two of their last three to sit at 33-36-11 on the season.
"We talked about finishing out the year strong," said Kings defenceman Matt Greene. "These last three games are huge for us. We're just trying to make sure we have some good compete out there and playing hard."
Greene, a former Oiler, said there was no added satisfaction in knocking a team out of contention.
"It's just part of the game," he said. "We're going for points here, we're not going to lay down for anybody. Just another game for us."
Edmonton was in a hole right from the opening minute as the Kings scored just 55 seconds after goalie Dwayne Roloson let in a soft goal on a point shot from Frolov.
Less than three minutes later the Kings went up 2-0 as Michal Handzus stripped the puck off defenceman Denis Grebeshkov in front of the Oilers net.
Handzus had his shot stopped but Simmonds was there to put home the rebound.
The Kings more than doubled Edmonton in the first period shot column with 14 while the Oilers only had six on Los Angeles goalie Jonathan Quick.
"We just didn't have any jump at all at the start," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish. "It was just a terrible start, virtually from everybody."
Edmonton started to get things going in the second period, coming within inches of scoring on a point shot from Steve Staios that went off Quick's glove and just missed rolling into the net.
But they Oilers finally scored with 3:31 to play in the second frame as a Grebeshkov shot was tipped by Pisani and bounced off Kings defender Denis Gauthier to make it a one-goal game heading into the third.
Edmonton reversed the shot totals with a 19-7 edge in the second.
The Oilers continued to pressure in the third and came close to tying it up with seven minutes to play as Andrew Cogliano sent a shot through the crease during a mad scramble up front. Edmonton outshot the Kings 14-8 in the third but couldn't get the equalizer.
The Kings play their final road contest in Vancouver on Thursday while the Oilers close out the home portion of their regular season schedule on Friday against Calgary.
Notes: Oilers goalie Dwayne Roloson, 39, was making his 36th consecutive start. ... Edmonton won both of its games in L.A. this year and the Kings returned the favour by winning both of their games in Edmonton. ... Kings defenceman Davis Drewiske got his first ever NHL point, assisting on L.A.'s first goal. ... Los Angeles had scored one goal or less in six of its seven previous road games Kings rookie Drew Doughty leads all NHL rookies and the Kings with 23:56 average time-on-ice.