The idea was to play meaningful games in April.

Well, the Edmonton Oilers just played four of them.

And for the first time all lockout-shortened season, they failed to produce even a loser point out of any stretch of four games.

They're dead men skating now.

And they're skating with a fork in them. They're done.

It's hard to come to any other conclusion after a game the entire hockey world viewed as loser-is-out when it comes to the Western Conference playoff picture.

Sure, the Oilers won five fabulous games in a row leading into this, including that 8-2 win in Calgary on April 1st to put them ever so briefly in the final playoff position in the NHL West.

But that was then. And this is now.

And now the tragic number is six.

Any combination of Edmonton losses and Detroit Red Wings wins totaling six and it'll be seven straight seasons out of the playoffs for the Oilers.

If the Red Wings lose to the San Jose Sharks and the Chicago Blackhawks in the next 48 hours, who knows if they'll make it a 22nd consecutive year in the playoffs.

But the Oilers just allowed another team to vault ahead of them in the standings where they now sit not only four points back of the Red Wings but three back of the Coyotes and two behind both Dallas and Columbus.

When coach Ralph Krueger pulled his goaltender with 2:30 left in the third period, that pretty much told the world that it was win this one or the run was done.

“You're right. It's an early pull. Making sure that we try to make that push.

“When you have a four-on-four situation, we wanted to go on the power play. We believe in our power play and they can't ice the puck in that situation.

“There were some opportunities there but we didn't bury them so we are now standing here analyzing what went wrong,” he said.

That applies not just to the game but the season. But for this night, it was the game.