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Oilers carry losing skid into trip to Montreal

After a 10-day layoff from play, it's time for the Edmonton Oilers to shake off the rust and get back to the job of finding their way into the NHL postseason.

The Oilers entered the break before the All-Star Game on a three-game losing streak, and that number stretched to four in a 5-4 overtime loss to the host Philadelphia Flyers in a Saturday matinee.

Connor McDavid scored his 30th goal of the season, and Ty Rattie broke a 21-game goal drought, but the Flyers won their seventh straight to sink the Oilers, who will travel to face the Montreal Canadiens on Sunday in Edmonton's second game in a stretch of three in four days.

Zack Kassian scored a short-handed goal for the Oilers, but their penalty kill was dreadful, allowing Philadelphia to connect four times on five power plays. Nolan Patrick's game-winner was the Flyers' only even-strength marker.

Stopping the puck was the Oilers' biggest liability before the break. They lost three straight -- 5-2 to Calgary, 7-4 to Carolina and 3-2 to Detroit -- and to compound matters, the trio of defeats all occurred at home.

The 15 opposing goals hung three losses on goalie Mikko Koskinen, who allowed 11 of the tallies. The 30-year-old lost in his only outing since inking a three-year, $13.3 million contract extension on Jan. 22 -- the same day GM Peter Chiarelli was fired.

Cam Talbot (9-13-2) took the overtime loss in Philadelphia. Talbot, 31, is an unrestricted free agent on July 1, and the club's faith in Koskinen could mean the end of Talbot's run in Edmonton after coming over from the New York Rangers.

However, he said his status and Koskinen's contract would not affect his play going forward.

"Anytime I get the net, I'm just going to go out there and give our team a chance to win," Talbot said. "Nothing is going to change for me, my mindset for me is going to try and help the team make the playoffs."

Montreal, which had not played since a 2-1 home win over Arizona on Jan. 23, opened the remainder of its season with a 3-2 overtime loss to the visiting New Jersey Devils on Saturday afternoon.

Top goalie Carey Price missed the game as he served a one-game suspension for skipping the NHL All-Star Game. Antti Niemi made 24 saves in Price's place, but New Jersey's Nico Hischier tied the game in the third period and won it 1:56 into overtime.

Price was at practice Thursday when Montreal took to the ice for the first time in a week. He said he felt "awful" after the workout but added that missing the exhibition contest in San Jose was "big" from a relaxation standpoint.

Price will start against Edmonton, and his presence will be a giant factor in the Canadiens' surprising resurgence. The goalie's mark stands at 20-13-4 with a 2.56 goals-against average and three shutouts, winning his last four starts.

"It's going to be a challenge, no doubt," said Price when asked about the postseason. "Everybody at this time of the season in and around our standings area is playing desperate hockey, and it's going to be playoff-style hockey for the rest of the season."

--Field Level Media

Updated February 3, 2019

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