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'TENDER BATTLE

Talbot talks about having a great night as he outduelled Alex Stalock at other end of the ice

by GEORGE JOHNSON @NHLFlames / calgaryflames.com

Not even the usually can't-miss Kiss Cam had a chance of generating more buzz on this night.

Not with the Human Highlight Cam in such eye-popping form.

"A lot of action at both ends,'' summed up Cam Talbot, appearing none the worse for wear after withstanding a 42-save barrage. "(Alex) Stalock played a heckuva game, as well.

"I thought we could've had a few more.

 

Video: "There was a lot of action at both ends"

 

"Those games are always fun. When the other guy's making a big save you know you have to answer right back.

"A big two points for us tonight."

The Flames parlayed a delicate Derek Ryan tip and Johnny Gaudreau skate-to-stick-to-back-of-net to tiptoe past the Minnesota Wild 2-1 to stay hot.

Mostly, though, No. 39 just flat-out held sway.

"We don't,'' said Gaudreau, "get that win tonight without Talbs."

True that.

Why, his 14-save third period alone - a felicitous mix of brilliance married to good fortune - was worth the price of admission.

He stayed square to block a Jonas Brodin back-door try off a GPS Eric Staal pass. A Ryan Suter shot glanced off Talbot's left skate before sliding coquettishly past the far post. Then that man Staal making himself noticed again, cranked the puck off a post. And finally, Kevin Fiala, point blank, with 1:19 left and the Wild deploying six attackers and laying siege to the Calgary net, denied.

"Sometimes,'' acknowledged Talbot, "you need a little luck in this game. I gave my post a little tap after the one.

"They hit another one near the end of the second there, when Doc (Ryan) cleared it out from behind me. As I said, the guys did a great job of coming back and helping me out and getting a little help from my friend the post, as well."

 

Video: "That's a lot of fun"

 

Right off the hop, Talbot was giving off glimpses of what he had in store, producing a particularly superb reflex stop at the expense of Calgary's own Matt Dumba, set free by former junior Hitmen star Victor Rask.

"Every time you can come up with a few saves early in the game you gain some confidence, get yourself into it," acknowledged Talbot.

"I thought our guys did a great job in front of me tonight, in limiting their chances and tying up their sticks. Their D do a really good job of getting pucks through."

The only pellet to elude him came courtesy of an old compatriot, Mats Zuccarello, 38 ticks into the second period.

"That's why he's so good,'' reckoned Talbot. "He's got some many different release points. He can put the puck pretty much wherever he wants it and you saw it on that shot.

"I was with him three or four years in New York and he's always coming out with something new. That's why he's so special."
Special, obviously, knows special.

"I think he's anticipating the play in front of him really well, so he's able to get himself square to the puck by the time the shot arrives,'' adjudged Flames' interim head knock Geoff Ward of his at-the-moment hot-hand goalie. "So his positioning and his anticipation are very good right now. I'm sure he sees anything the size of a beebee moving across (or) in front of him right now. 

"Forty-three shots is a little bit high, you don't like giving that many up, but the fact that we're limiting the second shots and keeping a lot of it to the outside is a good thing and we'll sit down and take a look at how many we gave up from the inside.

"The majority of it was from the outside and for us that's good, it says a lot about what we're doing in the middle of the ice."

 

Video: "It's a nice problem to have"

 

Vitally, the result ran Calgary's current win streak to four, the last three by the slenderest of margins.

"It's huge, to keep the streak going,'' said Talbot, "with four more games before the (All Star) break trying to separate ourselves from the teams below us and catch the teams above us.

"We know these games are going to be huge coming up."

None at luminous, though, than a visit by the Edmonton Oilers, back end of the Saturday HNIC doubledheader, coast-to-coast, with the rivals dead even at the moment in the uber-tight Pacific Division standings.

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