That sound that a full building of Stars fans heard at the end of a 5-2 loss to the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday night at American Airlines Center wasn't just the final horn. It also might have signaled the end of the Stars' season.
Dallas fell to San Jose for the second time in three days and no longer controls its own destiny in the Western Conference playoff race. The Stars remain in ninth place with two games remaining.
When Stars first-year head coach Glen Gulutzan was asked how disappointing it was to lose such a must-win game, he offered the most succinct of responses.
"It's right up there," Gulutzan said.
Now the Stars face the nearly impossible task of having to win a tough road game at Nashville on Thursday and then win again at home Saturday against the Blues just to have a shot at their first playoff berth since 2008.
"We're against the wall right now," defenseman Stephane Robidas said. "There's nothing we can do about what happened in the past, what happened tonight. We can't change it. It happened. That's why you play 82 games. We got two games left and we got to make sure we're ready for those two games and go from there, see what happens."
But even Dallas captain Brenden Morrow admitted that the Stars' fifth loss to the Sharks this season might be tough to put in the rearview mirror in short order.
"Yeah, that one stings," Morrow said. "You'd like to be able to control your own fate. We had that tonight and we let it go. Now we're going to need a lot of help."
The Stars got that help one year ago before falling in the season finale at Minnesota to miss the playoffs by a single point, a defeat that largely led to the firing of then-head coach Marc Crawford.
But will they experience similar luck a second straight year? It's highly unlikely they'll even get that opportunity.