VANCOUVER - Roberto Luongo sat in the Vancouver Canucks dressing room and buried his face in his hands.
The goaltender's picture of dejection mirrored a frustrating game and season after Vancouver's playoff hopes ended Thursday night with a 2-1 loss to the Edmonton Oilers before a disappointed sellout crowd of 18,630 at General Motors Place. "We worked so hard for the entire season for a chance to play for the Cup, and it's tough to take when you don't make it," Luongo said through sniffles.
Marty Reasoner and Jarret Stoll scored second-period goals and Dwayne Roloson made 37 saves as the Oilers turned into spoilers two nights after their own post-season hopes ended with a loss in Calgary.
With one game remaining, the Canucks (39-32-10) can't catch either the Flames or the Nashville Predators for the final playoff spot. A Vancouver victory would have created a Saturday playoff showdown against Calgary after the Flames lost earlier Thursday to Minnesota and Nashville beat St. Louis.
In the end, neither Nashville's win nor Calgary's loss mattered as the Canucks struggled to score on Roloson despite having a 38-21 edge in shots.
The Canucks missed the playoffs for the second time in three seasons after winning the Northwest Division title in 2006-07, earning a No. 3 seed in the playoffs and posting an opening-round victory over the Dallas Stars.
"This year a lot of things didn't go our way as compared to last year," said Luongo. "Obviously it's a very competitive conference and every game is so important."
Roloson helped the Oilers withstand a frantic finish after Alex Burrows finally put the Canucks on the scoreboard late in the third period.
Edmonton became the first team to conclude the regular season, finishing with a 41-35-6 mark.
"It's a great way to finish off the season," said Roloson, who made several excellent saves in his 11th straight start.
Stoll scored the winning goal on a power play at 18:30 of the second period, even though he missed most of it after being hit in the head by teammate Steve Staios' clearing shot just 31 seconds into the middle frame. The goal came while Trevor Linden was serving a slashing penalty.
"It was kind of a weird situation there, but I was fine," said Stoll. "I had to get stitched up and ice it down, then get back out there and I was fortunate enough to get the goal. It feels good to contribute and help the team win. It's just a great finish to the season".
He beat Luongo with a long slapshot while playing the point on the power play. It was a heads-up play, considering that he wasn't all that alert while receiving approximately 18 stitches.
"As they were stitching me up I was pretty dizzy and almost falling asleep there, but it came back to me," said Stoll. "The doctors did a great job stitching it up and it was just good that I could come back."
Power plays ultimately proved to be the difference as the Canucks went 1-for-8 and the Oilers scored once on four chances. Vancouver was denied during a full five-minute advantage in the second period after Mathieu Roy was ejected for boarding Vancouver defenceman Mike Weaver.
Reasoner gave Edmonton a 1-0 lead at 8:52 of the second period as he poked in Fernando Pisani's rebound while falling on Luongo.
"The puck was there, he was in the crease and he just swiped it in," said Luongo.
The loss left Vancouver with only one win in its last six games during a pivotal stretch drive. The late swoon, in which the Canucks squandered 2-0 leads twice in losses to Calgary and Colorado after briefly contending for the division title, contradicted early-season predictions that Vancouver would contend for the Stanley Cup.
"I think it seems like when the hockey gods are smiling on you, things fall your way a little bit, as they did last year," said Linden. "When they're not you have the kind of year we had this year, where it was a battle to keep people in the lineup and it was a battle to sustain our play. Just things didn't work out for us".
The Canucks never displayed much consistency as injuries depleted their defence corps and sidelined centre Brendan Morrison for most of the season. Luongo, who was dealing with his wife Gina's delicate pregnancy before she delivered a daughter recently, struggled at inopportune times while remaining among the NHL's top goaltenders.
"Emotionally it's been a rough couple weeks a lot of highs and lows," said Luongo. "That's pretty much all I can say."
Notes: The Canucks recalled Jannik Hansen on an emergency basis after Matt Pettinger came down with a sudden case of the flu. Pettinger was healthy enough to play, so Hansen was scratched. If Pettinger had not been sent home from the morning skate, Vancouver would not have been allowed to bring in Hansen because the club has used all of its allowable recalls. ... Canucks equipment manager Barrie Stafford was on the bench for his 2,000th NHL game.