BLAZE ended their Elite League regular season with a 2-1 shoot-out defeat at home to Hull Stingrays at the Skydome on Sunday night.
Ryan O’Marra got the go-ahead goal for Blaze in the second minute with his 18th marker of the season but Sam Towner levelled for the visitors with three minutes remaining.
And after overtime failed to find a winner, the match moved into penalty shots for the third successive meeting between the sides in the last week.
Blaze had come out on top in the previous two but could not make it a hat-trick with Will Frederick scoring the deciding shot for Stingrays with the 14th attempt.
“It was the same performance we have had for five games now, I am sounding like a broken record,” said head coach Chuck Weber.
“We are struggling to score goals and we didn’t have that killer instinct.
“They were waiting for that one shot and we gave it to them. It then comes down to a skills competition and they have a lot of skill.”
A two-legged play-off clash with Nottingham Panthers now awaits Blaze this weekend, with the first game taking place at the National Ice Centre on Saturday before the return at the Skydome on Sunday (5.15pm face-off).
Elite League winners and last season’s playoff champions Sheffield Steelers will face Fife Flyers, while Gardiner Conference winners Braehead Clan take on Hull Stingrays and Cardiff Devils take on Belfast Giants.
The four winners from the quarter-finals progress to playoff finals weekend, being held at the National Ice Centre in Nottingham on 4th and 5th April.
“We will now prepare for Nottingham,” Weber added. “They are a very good team and it is going to be a big challenge for us.”