VANCOUVER - The Vancouver Canucks dug themselves a hole that neither goaltending nor a revived power play could dig them out of.
And just a year removed from Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals versus Boston, this year's early exit doesn't seem to hurt any less than the loss to the Bruins.
"To be honest, it doesn't matter if you lose the seventh game of the finals or you lose in five in the first round, it's devastating," said Daniel Sedin after a 2-1 overtime loss to the Los Angeles Kings in Game 5 on Sunday.
"We have the mindset to win every year. When you end up on the losing side it's tough."
Vancouver fell behind 3-0 in the series, including the first two on home ice, before stealing one back Wednesday in Los Angeles to give the team a glimmer of hope.
"In the first game we took way too many penalties," said Henrik Sedin. "In the second the power play cost us the game. If you do that in a seven-game series, you give away two games, you've got to win four out of five and that's tough when they don't give you an inch out there."
The loss is especially disappointing following Vancouver's dominant run during the regular season. The Canucks won a second consecutive President's Trophy for leading the league in points, and seemed to be on track for another deep playoff run.
"We had expectations and hopes to go far in this playoff," said goaltender Cory Schneider.
"It seems like around the league, parity is running wild. Look at Pittsburgh, ourselves, Detroit, San Jose. New York's facing elimination, Boston held it off today. We can't take anything for granted. Anyone is capable of winning in this league."
While Vancouver had expected a deep Cup run, the Los Angeles Kings don't see this series victory as anything more than the first step for them.
"It probably means a lot more to other people being a big upset and them being the Presidents' Trophy winner," said Kings' captain Dustin Brown. "For this team it was what we were going for the whole time."
The Canucks will head into the off-season with many questions, including the future of their goaltender situation with Schneider earning the final three starts over incumbent number one Roberto Luongo.
"I only won one game," said Schneider. "Even if I played the first of the series, we'd still be down 2-1 right now so it doesn't really matter. It's nice to get some playoff experience and get comfortable in these situations but at the end of the day it's about results and playing well doesn't cut it this time of year."
But Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault was quick to downplay speculation about the team so soon after the loss.
"We're all very disappointed with how things turned out right now, and (we're) just going to step back and figure things out,”he said.