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A literal buzzer-beating goal led to the most gutting loss of the NHL season

When the Vegas Golden Knights acquired superstar Jack Eichel from the Buffalo Sabres in November, they instantly became legitimate Stanley Cup contenders. Fast forward to right now, Monday, April 25, and with three games remaining in the regular season, the Knights are in grave danger of missing the playoffs entirely.

In dire need of a late-season push to the finish, Vegas has instead stumbled in, going 3-4-1 in its last eight games, including losses to the lowly New Jersey Devils (at home) and the Vancouver Canucks, the team currently right behind them in the wild card standings. But none of the defeats during that stretch were as gutting as the one from Sunday night in Sin City, where the Knights welcomed in the San Jose Sharks, the same team that they squandered a 3-1 lead against in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

This year's version of the Sharks will not be in the playoffs, though they may be responsible for knocking the Knights out of them before they even start. Down 4-3 with seconds remaining on the clock, longtime Sharks defenseman Brent Burns flung one off the boards and directly on to the stick of Timo Meier, who scored the game-tying goal with ... wait for it ... 0.7 seconds remaining on the clock:

Goodness gracious, what a dagger. The Knights, unable to recover and finish them off in overtime, lost in the shootout, going 0-for-3 and allowing San Jose to end it on the third attempt. 

While the Knights did still manage to get a point, that second point they would have earned with a win could prove to be insanely crucial. Had they won, they'd be two points back of the Dallas Stars, who currently own the second wild card spot the Knights are chasing. The two teams meet on Tuesday night, and a Knights win still won't be enough to catch Dallas. 

That said, both teams will still have two games remaining, Vegas going on the road to Chicago and St. Louis, and Dallas getting the last-place Arizona Coyotes at home, then finishing off the season at home against the Anaheim Ducks. Advantage, Stars, and they may have the Sharks to thank for that.