The Edmonton Oilers had Tuesday’s game in Anaheim marked as a must-win.
And they proceeded to lose, 2-1.
That resulted in a lot of glum faces in the Edmonton dressing room, as players recognized their playoff hopes took a major blow.
None seemed to recognize it more than Taylor Hall.
“This was a huge game for our team. It’s really going to be hard from here on in,” Hall told the Edmonton Journal. “Three games ago, we were right there. Now, we’re a ways back. We’re just going to have to stay motivated.”
“You never know what can happen, but this was one we had to win.”
On Apr. 3, the Oilers beat the Flames 8-2 to move into sole possession of eighth in the West. Spirits were high. But three consecutive defeats have sent them crashing back down to earth.
With Tuesday’s loss, Edmonton now sits 12th in the Western Conference with 39 points, four points back of eighth-place Detroit with Dallas (41 points), Columbus (41) and Phoenix (40) still ahead in the standings.
If there is a silver lining for the Oilers, it’s their remaining schedule.
They’ll play seven of their last nine at the friendly confines of Rexall Place — where they’re 8-5-4 — and have a huge stretch coming up where they’ll face three non-playoff entities in the Coyotes, Flames and Avalanche.
Of course, they’ll also play their final five games of the season against top-six teams in the West: Anaheim (x2), Chicago, Minnesota and Vancouver.
Captain Shawn Horcoff says the team will turn it around for these final nine games.
“We’ll regroup and finish it out. We’re going to finish hard,” he told the Journal. “We’re not mathematically eliminated, so you never know.
“We’re not in a situation where we can just mail it in.”