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They can lament injuries and curse officiating until they're old and gray, but when dissecting their latest first-round playoff demise, the Wild should start by looking in the mirror.

They should blame themselves.

They didn't rise to the challenge. Their scoring dried up. Their special teams were nothing short of abysmal. Their stars were no-shows. Their coach gambled on a goalie switch and got burned.

And when the heat got dialed up to its highest setting, the Wild were blown off the ice in back-to-back games with a pair of lethargic performances that sent them meekly into the offseason.

Needing a desperate, forceful effort to stave off elimination in their home arena Friday, the Wild pushed hard for five minutes at the start and briefly late in the third, but that wasn't nearly enough as the Dallas Stars claimed the series in Game 6 with a 4-1 win.

Any flicker of hope the Wild might have had got extinguished on Mason Marchment's goal with less than a second remaining in the second period to give the Stars a 3-0 lead.

That deficit was the equivalent of staring up at Mount Everest with Dallas goalie Jake Oettinger posting a lengthy shutout streak that finally ended on Freddy Gaudreau's goal with 7:07 left in regulation.

Fans serenaded the Wild with boos as they skated off the ice at the end of the second period. The third period was nothing more than a 20-minute march to the inevitable conclusion – a seventh consecutive first-round exit.

The postmortem on this one will reveal no great mystery. The Stars capitalized on their chances. The Wild did not.

The stark difference between the teams was highlighted in a game-defining and series-defining sequence early in the first period Friday.

The Wild flew out of the gates at puck drop. They pressured the Stars with a fast pace that forced Oettinger to be on his toes.

Then the air went rushing out of Xcel Energy Center.

Ryan Hartman had an open net off a deflection. All he had to do was corral the puck and jam it in. But he lost control of the puck as Oettinger lunged backward. The puck squirted to the other side of the crease.

As everyone in the arena tried to process how Hartman didn't score, Dallas center Roope Hintz eluded defenseman John Klingberg with a dipsy-doo move and rifled a shot past Filip Gustavsson for a goal on the Stars' first shot of the game at 6:22.

The Wild simply didn't generate enough scoring in the series. Too often they either flubbed shots or Oettinger stoned them with his clinic in high-level goaltending.

Fans booed and grumbled after yet another disjointed power play at the end of the first period. The Wild responded by playing on their heels through the first half of the second period. They didn't take a shot for more than seven minutes as the Stars outshot them 11-0.

Regret and what-ifs are frustrating baggage to carry into the offseason, but the Wild leave with plenty of both.

What if Dean Evason had stuck with Gustavsson in Game 2 rather than put him on the bench after his strong performance in Game 1?

What if injured center Joel Eriksson Ek had been available?

Young stars Kirill Kaprizov and Matt Boldy combined for one goal and three assists in six games.

The series pivoted in Game 4. The Wild played their style but failed to convert on numerous chances, opening the door for the Stars to win 3-2. Rather than take a 3-1 lead in a series for the first time in team history, the Wild did not win again.