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Teammates feel like they let Talbot down after his impressive performance

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames /

At something resembling warp speed, Cam Talbot has managed to weave himself into the fabric of a new professional family.

No feeling-out period. No awkward introductions. By way of effort, personality and a fierce desire to contribute in any way asked, he's won over his teammates and coaches.

Now he wants to win games.

Wednesday, no one can argue that he didn't deserve to.


"It hurts when he puts on a performance like that, makes so many key saves and gives us a chance when we probably shouldn't have had a chance after two periods,'' confessed Flames' left-winger Matthew Tkachuk, after a top-drawer 30-save Talbot performance ended in a 3-1 loss to the visiting Dallas Stars at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

"He made some great stops. In some of the games he's come in, he's been our best player.

"He works so hard. He probably hasn't played since Washington, a week and a bit ago.

"We worked to try and tie it up in the third.

"I just wish we got to reward him today."

Making his first start in 10 days, since a 4-2 loss to Washington, Talbot held the fort, particularly during an 18-shot middle-stanza Dallas barrage.

"I gave up a few too many rebounds in the second period and made myself and some of the guys work a little extra hard,'' said Talbot. "But I think overall I made a lot of key saves in the second period to keep it a one-goal game going into the third.

"Just needed that one more save."


Video: "Overall, I made a lot of key saves."


The low-scoring Stars - something of a puzzle, given the offensive arsenal at their disposal - arrived in town having collected points in eight of their most recent nine games, relying on mainly on stubborn resilience and spiffy netminding.

The script played out to form.

Both goaltenders, Talbot and Big D's Ben Bishop, were solid to spectacular.

With the Stars clinging to a 1-0 lead courtesy a long-standing Flames' tormentor in teal, Joe Pavelski, the outcome swung seismically one back-and-forth sequence that began when Mikael Backlund, dead centre, somehow directed a 3-on-1 pass from Mark Giordano wide of the Dallas net.

In the blink of an eye, off sailed the Stars in the opposite direction, 2-on-1, Cochrane-born Justin Dowling, patience personified, adroitly dragging the puck past Talbot to deposit home and chalk up his first NHL goal.

"They told me it went through (Bishop),'' Calgary coach Bill Peters said of the missed 3-on-1 chance, "and went out the short side. Is that what happened? You guys have seen it more than I have.

"Good play by Backs to create the 3-on-1 in the neutral zone. Guys were talking about in the room. (The pass) was in tight, jammed him up a little bit and he put it between the goaltender and the net."

For an NHL account-opener, Dowling could scarcely have asked for anything more artistic.

"I want the shooter,'' explained Talbot. "He kind of faked the shot, made me bite and then didn't have much room to slide that in.
"Sometimes NHL guys are going to make good plays like that."


Video: "We've got to do a better job of getting to the net."


The Flames created their own opportunities and actually could've - should've - been in front heading into the first intermission.

Less than a minute in, Bishop, flat on his belly, was forced into parlaying every blessed millimetre of that 6-foot-7 frame to stretch his right leg to the post and stab a toe at Andrew Mangiapane's sweeping-across-the-blue-paint attempt.

Not long afterwards, Milan Lucic sent an onrushing Rasmus Andersson right down Main Street (or the Malmö, Sweden equivalent), only to be denied again by Big Ben.

Not that a little luck didn't come to his aid, too, an exploratory wrist shot from Mark Jankowski from distance, out near the Dallas blueline, ringing off iron and out of harm's way.

"We had some looks early," agreed Peters. "Mangie had a look on the first shift, a real good scoring chance, then Andy was down the middle in the first period. First shift of the second, we had a carryover on a powerplay and Chucky was in on a little partial one, on the off-wing.

"I thought our second period could've been better but it's 1-0 and instead of 1-1 it's 2-0 on the transition going the other way."

After a wobbly beginning, the Stars seem to have regained their footing.

"That's another big, heavy team over there that plays that playoff style, didn't give us much,'' gauged Tkachuk, once again Calgary's most consistently dangerous offensive threat.

"After two periods we had 12 or 14 shots and not too many Grade As. As forwards we've got to do a better job of getting to the net.

"And one of the better goalies in the league, Bish. If he sees it, he's going to stop it. It's our job to get to the net.

"A tight game. That second goal hurt a little bit but then we got one right back, so it's still a one-goal game.

"We gave a little bit of a push but not enough."

Through no fault of Talbot's.

"I mean, you want to win hockey games,'' he said, when asked about separating performance from outcome. "That's first and foremost.

"But I think if I go out and put on performances like that more often than not, I'll get a little bit more run support than I did tonight.

"I have a lot of confidence in group in front of me. I thought we gave ourselves a chance.

"We just didn't get enough pucks and bodies in front of Bishop tonight."

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