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Oilers defeat Jets to end three-game losing streak

by Derek Van Diest

EDMONTON -- Cam Talbot gave the Edmonton Oilers an early Christmas gift when he made 44 saves in a 3-1 win against the Winnipeg Jets at Rexall Place on Monday.

Right wing Teddy Purcell had two goals and an assist, but it was Talbot who stole the show. Winnipeg outshot Edmonton 45-21.

"He was tremendous, he was really good," Oilers coach Todd McLellan said of Talbot. "Minute 1 through Minute 60, he was easily our best player. He looked very confident, he made some incredible saves and we were very, very fortunate to have him tonight."

Justin Schultz scored his first goal of the season and Taylor Hall had three assists for the Oilers (15-18-2), who ended a three-game losing streak. Edmonton has won seven straight at home.

It was Talbot's first win at Rexall Place since Oct. 29 against the Montreal Canadiens.

"I don't think it was the best game for us, but Cam played great, I'm really happy for him," Hall said. "The last three starts for him have been really strong and it's a good sign for our team."

Bryan Little scored and goaltender Connor Hellebuyck allowed three goals on 14 shots for the Jets (15-16-2) before being pulled in the second period in favor of Michael Hutchinson.

"Talbot played an amazing game, he definitely stole those two points for them," Hutchinson said. "We picked up right where we left off after playing the [New York] Rangers (5-2 win on Friday). We had a ton of scoring chances and probably could have found the back of the net a couple more times. We didn't lose a step from that game to this one. It was nice to see us getting that many chances on net. You don't see too many games where you throw 45 shots on net and don't come away with the two points. If we keep playing like this, we are going to have success down the stretch."

Talbot made an outstanding save on Jets defenseman Tyler Myers early in the first period to keep the game scoreless and set the tone. He made 12 saves in the first and 16 in the second and third periods for his fifth win of the season.

"Some nights you have it and some nights you don't, and tonight I had it," Talbot said. "I've been feeling really good lately. It started in Boston [3-2 win against Bruins]. I had a couple of weeks off to work on some things and when I got my chance, I wanted to make sure I was ready for it. I feel that I did that, I put in a lot of extra work over those two weeks, and I feel like it's starting to pay off and hopefully I can continue to carry it through after the Christmas break."

Purcell scored 11:15 into the first period to give the Oilers a 1-0 lead when he took a centering pass from Hall and lifted a shot over Hellebuyck.

Purcell scored again at 12:59 on a one-timer off a cross-ice pass from Leon Draisaitl.

Purcell fed Schultz coming in off the blue line in front of the net and the latter put a shot past Hellebuyck at 7:44 of the second period to give the Oilers a 3-0 lead.

"We don't want to leave him [Talbot] hanging out to dry as much as we did," Purcell said. "But he played well and that's nice to see. When we broke down, Cam was there. But we have to learn from this. We have to get comfortable playing with leads."

Hellebuyck, who made his fifth consecutive start for Winnipeg, was pulled following the goal.

Little cut the lead to 3-1 at 12:27, one second after a hooking penalty to Hall expired. Blake Wheeler took a shot that hit the crossbar, then bounced off the glass behind the net and back out in front to Little, who batted the puck past Talbot.

The goal was reviewed for a possible high stick, but stood.

"I thought for sure that we outplayed them tonight and I thought we deserved the two points," Myers said. "At the same time, their goalie played well and we have to bear down and finish our chances. We had a lot of chances and they just weren't going in for us. All in all, we did a lot of good things tonight."

The Jets continued to be frustrated by Talbot in the third period. Center Mark Scheifele had an excellent chance in front, but Talbot was able to slide across to make the save.

"We were in that hockey game," Jets coach Paul Maurice said. "We needed to make good on some of the chances that we had and we didn't. Their guy made some good saves. We missed the net on a few too. They had 20 blocks, so give them credit for getting in front of them. But we were playing in the right end of the rink."

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