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Cam Talbot in top form against Sharks

Gets second straight shutout for Oilers in first postseason as No. 1 goalie

by Tim Campbell @TimNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

SAN JOSE -- Cam Talbot's regular season as the NHL's busiest goalie, making 73 starts, provided many clues that he was an 'A' student.

He figured out how to handle the workload as the Edmonton Oilers No. 1 goalie. He managed his work and his rest and had a 42-22-8 record in helping the Oilers finish second in the Pacific Division.

Now the 29-year-old from Caledonia, Ontario, has aced another exam.

He made 23 saves to help the Oilers blank the San Jose Sharks 1-0 at SAP Center on Sunday, his second straight shutout in the Stanley Cup Playoffs that gave Edmonton a 2-1 lead in the best-of-7 Western Conference First Round series.

 

[RELATED: Complete Oilers vs. Sharks series coverage]

 

Talbot made 16 saves in Edmonton's 2-0 win on home ice Friday. He has not allowed a goal in 120 minutes; the last member of the Sharks to beat him was Melker Karlsson, who had the Game 1 winner at 3:22 of overtime.

In this series, it's been the quality of work, not the quantity, that's been important.

"I think I've been doing a pretty good job of managing it," Talbot said Sunday. "I'm staying engaged in the game. Being on my toes and being ready for the next shot.

"In the third period there, I think they had one shot with seven minutes left. Then it's Joel Ward, wide open in front and I've got to make a big save."

Video: EDM@SJS, Gm3: Talbot squares up to deny Ward in 3rd

Talbot's high marks in the series include a goals-against average of 0.98 and a save percentage of .964.

Prior to this season, his postseason experience was all of two relief appearances in the playoffs as Henrik Lundqvist's backup with the New York Rangers in 2013-14.

In his first playoffs as a No. 1 goalie, Talbot said there has been much to learn, in particular the difference between a regular-season game and a playoff game.

"Just how little space there is out there," Talbot said. "You can tell, there's not an inch of leeway. Guys are right on top of you every play, you really have to make quick decisions with the puck and there's not a whole lot of places to go with it. There's no odd-man rushes out there."

That it's often a grind is certain.

In this series, there have been three 5-on-5 goals in three games.

"The players in the playoffs ramp it up a little more," Oilers coach Todd McLellan said. "Their responsibility level goes up. We didn't have that in Game 1. It's tougher to get the puck to the net, to the paint, and in turn maybe the goaltenders don't see as much dramatic work, if you will, but it becomes tougher because there's more bodies going to the net and it's sporadic and you have to have a really focused goaltender, and both teams have that right now."

Talbot's comfort level and balanced attitude, both on and off the ice, has helped make the Oilers a stable, playoff-bound team this season.

He was already looking ahead to Game 4 on Tuesday (10 p.m. ET, NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports, NBCSCA), preferring not to get all wound up about a second straight postseason shutout.

Video: EDM@SJS, Gm3: Talbot records back-to-back shutouts

"It feels great but the job's not done yet," he said. "We came and got home-ice advantage back, but it would be nice to come in and play another game like that on Tuesday."

Pressed, Talbot conceded he's loving the personal and career progress this season has brought.

"Oh, yeah. I've just been dreaming of getting a chance to be a starting goalie," he said. "Now, to be the guy in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, it's very humbling. I'm relishing this chance right now, just trying to give our guys a chance to win.

"It's just cool to be part of this group right now. It's such a tight-knit group, and you can see how happy guys are for guys like Kass (Zack Kassian), who's getting these big goals right now."

Kassian's unassisted goal at 10:45 of the third period was his second straight game-winner.

"You can't say enough about him right now," Talbot said. "He's playing at a new level, and that's what you need in the playoffs. The top guys get marked pretty hard, and you need secondary scoring. He's giving it to us right now."

Not being able to say enough … that's how the Oilers talk about their goalie.

"When you have a goalie back there that you know is going to make a save when you give up a chance … the best teams have that," right wing Jordan Eberle said. "Look at every Stanley Cup team that's won, they all have great goaltending. We have it. Talbs has been great. You have to give credit to our defense, too. We've really, the last two games, limited their chances and their shots and opportunities.

"But Cam's been there to save those."

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