It was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. The dagger. The last gasp. The end.

Last night’s 4-1 loss to the Edmonton Oilers certainly seemed like the unofficial end of hockey season in Denver. The Avalanche, a team whose playoff hopes had been riding only on improbable mathematics and Lloyd Christmas logic, did – to be fair – make things interesting down the stretch. Prior to last night, the Avs had won eight of their last 12 games, just enough to make hockey fans in Denver sneak a peek the seemingly insurmountable Western Conference standings. It was an admirable effort finally dampened by harsh reality.

Down the hall at Pepsi Center, this same truth had settled in long ago; the Nuggets had lost hope for the postseason well before Christmas. In fact, there were only two points during the season when the team had a winning record – once after an opening night win over the Pistons, and then again on Dec. 1, when a road victory at Utah had Denver sitting pretty at 9-8. A five-game win streak in January “sort of” made things interesting, but then losing 19 of 21 effectively got Brian Shaw canned on March 3.

And here we are: One day shy of April and Pepsi Center appears to be playoff-less.

Scratch that, the Colorado Mammoth can, and likely will, make the postseason. Denver’s National Lacrosse League team is a half game out of first place in the NLL West Division and should host either a first- or second-round playoff game. Since their inception in 2003, the Mammoth have only missed the playoffs once (2010).

Still, Pepsi Center has become synonymous with postseason hockey and basketball. Amazingly, it’s been since 1995 that neither the Nuggets nor the Avalanche will host a playoff game at Pepsi Center. For those of you counting at home, that’s two decades of playoff participation. Opened in 1999, the building itself has never missed either an NBA or NHL postseason – until now.

Sad as that may be, there’s the other side of the coin – the “glass half full” approach: Boy, oh boy, what a run.

In the last 20 years – or 40 “combined” seasons – for the Avs and Nuggets, 25 have resulted a trip to the postseason. Since 1994, the Nuggets have earned 12 trips the playoffs; the Avalanche have been 13 times since 1995-96, their inaugural year in Denver.

Before we lament the fact that we’ll be watching postseason play from the outside this spring, consider some comparable sports towns. If one throws out New York and L.A., cities that have multiple NBA and NHL franchises, and toss places like Carolina, Columbus, Charlotte and Cleveland (the “C” cities that don’t truly boast representatives in both leagues), there are 10 cities that claim both NBA and NHL teams (Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Minnesota, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Toronto and Washington D.C.).

When looking at a similar sample size in terms of playoff opportunities across both sports, Denver ranks favorably among those towns. Chicago, Dallas and Denver all claim 25 total appearances. Coming in just behind that are Boston (24) and Phoenix (22). And bringing up the rear are Toronto and Minnesota with 15 and 13, respectively (for accuracy’s sake, it should be noted that Minnesota lost its NHL franchise from 1993 to 2000, but hey, that’s their own fault). Only Detroit and Philadelphia claim more total playoff appearances than Denver, with 27 each.

While it might be an overstatement to say that Denver has been “spoiled,” it’s more than reasonable to say we’ve enjoyed our fair share of postseason participation at Pepsi Center.

In total, the building has played host to three NHL Western Conference Finals series, one Stanley Cup series, one NBA Western Conference Finals series, an NLL champion, an AFL Arena Bowl champion, a bevy of concerts and a Democratic National Convention. All told, it’s been one heckuva ride.

No playoffs at Pepsi Center? Sounds strange, doesn’t it? Perhaps the ol’ barn needed to take a breather. Let’s blame it on Garth Brooks.

It’s tough not to gripe about the next two months, but it’s easy to grin about the last two decades.