EDMONTON - Marty Reasoner would have been hard pressed to script a better ending for his return to Edmonton.
The former Oiler came back to haunt his old club with a breakaway goal 4:10 into overtime as the Atlanta Thrashers won their fourth game in a row, defeating Edmonton 4-3 on Thursday night.
Reasoner, who the Oilers appeared to show little interest in re-signing this past summer, tied his career high with 11 goals this season with the overtime marker, also his 200th career NHL point.
"It was definitely nice," he said. "I had a few chances and (Oilers goalie Dwayne Roloson) had gotten the best of me there, but I figured going in there, worst case I throw it into his pads and start backchecking, but it squeaked in there."
Jim Slater, Bryan Little and Zach Bogosian also scored for the Thrashers (27-35-6), who have are playing some of their best hockey of the season with six wins in their last eight games.
"I think we played very good as a team," said Thrashers starting goalie Johan Hedberg. "They probably need the points more than we do. We're playing for next season, playing for pride, but the last five games are the best we've played all year."
The Thrashers victory came at a price, however, as captain Ilya Kovalchuk left the ice with an upper body injury in the first period and did not return.
"We don't want to say too much right now because we don't know for sure," said Atlanta head coach John Anderson of his star's status. "He's day to day as we speak right now. He had a little problem yesterday and I didn't practice him. He said he was OK to go today and obviously he wasn't, but I've got to give him credit for trying."
Shawn Horcoff, Patrick O'Sullivan and Robert Nilsson replied for the Oilers (32-27-8), who lost four of their last five games, including two straight in overtime.
"To say there was disappointment in the dressing room after a game like that is an understatement, to come up empty like that in overtime," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish. "Especially in light of the fact there has been three of those in the last eight days with the same result. We can't even get them to the shootout. We've got really strong shooters and I would have liked our chances in the shootout."
O'Sullivan said a slow start had a lot to do with the eventual outcome.
"I don't think we were as sharp as we needed to be starting that game," he said. "The next time we need to be ready to go right from the start."
The loss stung but the Oilers did get a point, allowing them to stay in a tie for seventh with Dallas with 72 points in the Western Conference playoff race.
"Obviously we would have liked the two points," said captain Ethan Moreau. "We have to get that killer instinct to get that next goal.
"It's going to be a battle to the end but we are still in a position where if we play well we get into the playoffs. We don't have to catch anybody. We just have to take care of our own business."
Atlanta scored 2:30 into the first period as Nathan Oystrick spotted Slater in the clear to complete a four-way passing play. Slater blasted a shot into the net before Roloson could get over.
The Oilers tied the game just before the midway point of the period on a two-man advantage. Hedberg made a save in tight on Ales Hemsky but Denis Grebeshkov got the rebound and passed to Horcoff for a goal high to the glove-side to make it 1-1.
The Thrashers regained the lead with six minutes to play in the opening frame as Todd White waited for Little to join the rush then shifted to the backhand to beat Roloson for his 29th goal of the season.
Edmonton came back out for the second period with a lot more jump, taking the 3-2 lead with goals less 1:23 apart.
O'Sullivan scored his first goal as an Oiler since being acquired in a trade-deadline deal with Carolina on a wrist shot from the face-off dot. Soon afterward, Nilsson scored on a rebound after Hedberg had made the initial save with the shaft of his stick on a Sam Gagner shot.
Atlanta evened the game up again with eight minutes remaining in the second with a power play goal as Bogosian snuck in from the point and blasted a bullet past Roloson to make it 3-3 after 40 minutes.
There was no scoring in the third period as the shots ended up even at 30-30 after regulation time.
Both teams play again on Saturday with Atlanta completing their three-game trip in Buffalo and Edmonton playing host to the Colorado Avalanche.
Notes: The Oilers made a number of changes to their lineup with Sheldon Souray returning after leaving their last game against Montreal and captain Ethan Moreau back after missing their latest road trip with an eye injury. Forward Dustin Penner was also inserted after being a healthy scratch in Edmonton's last game With his first period injury, Atlanta captain Ilya Kovalchuk had his point streak stopped at seven games. During that time he had six goals and nine helpers.