Switzerland's dream of a place in the world ice hockey championship quarter-finals have been all but ended after a 3-0 defeat by the United States.
Needing at least a draw to maintain any realistic chance of a place in the last eight, Ralph Krueger's side came dramatically undone against a generally superior American team.
Thursday's match could have been a tighter affair if the referee hadn't disallowed an early Swiss strike after just four minutes.
Veteran Bern defender Martin Steinegger had his team-mates celebrating after appearing to slip the puck past US goalkeeper Ryan Miller. But after studying television replays, the Finnish referee ruled that Miller had just managed to clear the puck before it crossed the goal-line.
Seemingly stunned into action by Switzerland's near-goal, the Americans replied just two minutes later with a well-struck opener from Mark Murphy.
A short but miserable spell either side of the first break then put paid to Switzerland's hopes of causing a major upset. With just 25 seconds of the first period remaining, South Korean-born forward Richard Park took advantage of a double power-play to fire the US into a 2-0 lead.
Then with only 46 seconds of the second period played, Washington Capitals star Steve Konowalchuk completed the scoring after slipping almost unnoticed through the young Swiss defence.
Swiss coach Ralph Krueger confirmed his team had failed to fulfill its aims. "Before the match, we really wanted to score the first goal," he said. "It would have done us some good, because we had to chase the score in our matches against Germany and the Czechs."
Krueger believes there were some positive points despite the loss though. "My younger players were aggressive and worked hard all through the game. We are on the right track, and we have to keep on working."
Although Ralph Krueger's team could still mathematically qualify for the quarter-finals, it would take a sporting miracle for them to do so.
Switzerland would now have to beat Olympic champions Canada on Friday, win their last qualifying round match against Latvia on Sunday and still have to rely on other results going their way.
swissinfo with agencies