He finished a rink-side walk-off interview and headed down the tunnel to the dressing room as the cheers of the Oil Country faithful, lined up in the stands, faded behind him.
When he entered the room, teammate Matt Hendricks handed him a Harley Davidson motorcycle helmet to wear-a new team tradition, courtesy of Hendricks. The helmet was to be awarded to the Player of the Game and that night- Cam Talbot was its very first recipient.
A 31-save performance, his third win in four starts & the Oilers best record to begin a season since 2008, and somehow still, on the evening of October 18, Talbot's week was poised to get even better.
He sat down in his stall, finished up with his post-game interviews - motorcycle helmet still affixed to his sweaty hair - and grabbed his phone immediately after.
Talbot had been keeping it right next to him in his stall for the past few weeks so he could check it every time he was about to leave for the ice, and every time he came off.
One message from "Kelly" popped up on the screen. He swiped to open. He admits to having a little moment of anxiety every time he saw an unread message from his wife in the days leading up.
"Was it happening?"
"Was she ok?"
"Was she early?"
Many thoughts jumped to his mind.
He opened the message:
That slight pang of worry quickly faded and he knew that he would drive home from the rink that night, get up in the morning and the two would head to the hospital together for Kelly's scheduled check-in as planned. She was being induced and was to start the process of bringing two brand new little Talbots into the world.
The length of a pregnancy for twins can be anywhere between 36 to 40 weeks, and with that uncertainty came the understandable nervousness of a first-time father-to-be- to twins no less- in the midst of an erratic practice and travel schedule of an NHL team.
"I was nervous every day. Every single day," said Cam.
"Until the first week of October when my in-laws came into town, Kelly was home alone every day and twins have the tendency to come earlier than usual so you never know."
Cam noted that because of the unique situation, he and Kelly had to have their bases covered.
"Every day I was at the rink I had my phone next to me in my stall before I went on the ice. Kelly had the hockey operations staff's numbers in case I had to be pulled off the ice during practice or something," said Cam.
"But I was still always worried I'd have a missed call or text when I picked up that phone."
Kelly also said there were moments of uncertainty leading up to the scheduled day.
"Towards the end I definitely had some worry just because they were rather big for twins, so they could have been early. We didn't want Cam to miss that moment," said Kelly.
Luckily, the pair held off their grand entrance and Cam and Kelly were able to welcome twin boy and girl - Landon and Sloane Talbot - into the world on October 19, at 8:20 a.m., exactly as planned.
The Edmonton Oilers acquired Cam Talbot from the New York Rangers via trade in the summer of 2015. Oilers President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Peter Chiarelli executed the trade with the clear vision of Talbot seizing the opportunity to become a bonafide NHL starter.
After earning his keep as a more than capable backup to Henrik Lundqvist in New York City the previous two seasons, it became clear that Talbot was ready to take the next step.
Midway through the 2015-16 campaign in Edmonton, it was obvious he had done just that.
The Oilers agreed to terms with Talbot on a three-year contract extension in January of 2016.
With some stability in the form of a contract extension and the opportunity for him and his wife to get settled in Edmonton, the first year in Oil Country was a good one for the Talbots. It seemed they were more prepared than ever for the next phase of their lives together.
And on a professional level, Cam was quick to pick up right where he left off in the blue paint to start the Oilers 2016-17 campaign.
It was on October 18, the night before the twins were born, that he really seemed to catch fire. After turning in a 31-save performance in a 3-2 Oilers defeat of Carolina, Cam spent the following day with Kelly and the twins at the hospital.
He returned to Rogers Place the next day for a matchup against the St. Louis Blues and went on to turn aside 34 of 35 shots, earn first star honours and his fourth win in five starts following another stellar performance between the pipes.
"To have that day with them and knowing I had to go back and play one of the top teams the next night was mentally challenging, but I knew after that game, no matter what, I was going back to see my twins," said Cam.
Even his teammates marveled at his poise and focus in the midst of a rather turbulent new adventure in his personal life.
"He's unbelievable," said teammate Connor McDavid, following the 3-1 win over St. Louis.
"I don't even know how he's doing it with everything going on in his life."
Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan echoed the same sentiment that night.
"A lot of things have gone on in his world but he was excellent again. We are very happy for him," said McLellan.
After that game, Cam himself conducted post-game interviews and was hard-pressed to keep the smile off his face. He was beaming.
"I wouldn't trade the last 24 hours for the world. I was ready to go tonight and riding a bit of an adrenaline high. I can't wait to get back to the hospital tonight with the big win in my back pocket," he said.
Just out of the camera's view, on his right wrist, were two matching yellow hospital bands, one for each newborn baby. Cam hadn't taken them off from the previous day and decided, with the rationale of any goaltender, to not change what was working.
"I was on a bit of a roll after they were born so I didn't want to take them off," said Cam.
"It made me feel close to them and I think it brought a bit of luck."
His thinking wasn't wrong. The Oilers goaltender went on to close out October winning three of four starts, turning aside 111 of 113 shots faced and posting two shutouts in the process.
Three months into the pregnancy, Kelly Talbot was feeling happy, comfortable and ready for the next step in her and Cam's journey as a family.
She sat in the exam room at an ultrasound appointment as the tech found a heartbeat, took measurements and jotted down notes. She seemed to be studying the monitor closely. Cam sat patiently in the waiting room.
"The tech came out and asked me to come into the room. I wasn't sure if that was normal or not," said Cam.
Cam joined Kelly inside the exam room and the tech made her way over to the monitor. She carefully outlined a shape on the screen with her forefinger.
"So, here is your baby," she said, with an inflection in her voice that indicated an incomplete thought.
The pair stared at the screen, already emotional at the sight of what was to make them parents for the first time.
"And… here is your other baby," she finished.
Cam squeezed Kelly's hand.
"We kind of looked at each other and Kelly started crying. It was an emotional time but so happy," said Cam.
"You can't plan for anything like that but it's a special moment when you find out for sure," finished Cam, as he recalled the moment life took on a whole new trajectory.
Kelly noted the same feeling when they first got the news.
"We had been trying for so long, so it was such a special moment… We just kind of looked at each other with excitement, but also a little bit scared. We knew it changed things," said Kelly.
That moment may have just been a little extra special for the parents-to-be, because past struggles to conceive led them to the option of fertility treatments. To see proof on an ultrasound monitor meant it was happening. Kelly recalled some tough moments in the past when it seemed like the road would be tougher than expected. It all came to a head that day in the doctor's office.
"It was just so exciting once we found out we were finally pregnant. After trying for so long, and not knowing if it was really going to happen, we were just extremely blessed to be pregnant with one. Seeing two that day was an emotional moment for both of us," said Kelly.
Naturally, the two could soon spread the news that their little family was about to double in size. Cam brought the news to his teammates, and one in particular, who could likely impart some valuable wisdom.
Oilers forward Matt Hendricks and wife Kim found themselves in a very similar situation about five years
previous, when Kim learned she was pregnant with twins.
"It was extreme joy from both my wife Kim and I for Cam and Kelly when he told me the news," said Hendricks.
Hendricks was quick to share in the joy, but also wanted to remind Cam of the tougher realities of what lay ahead.
"There was lots of congratulations, but at the same time, some warnings, especially the first three months… Looking back, I obviously wouldn't change a thing. But I do remember it being tough for a while especially during the season," said Hendricks.
"If it wasn't for our wives, I don't know what would happen."
Already having a friend in Kim Hendricks, Kelly has shared much of her journey with a fellow mom of twins. The Oilers schedule in November had the team on the road for well over half the month, and the tougher realities of parenting twins in the early stages began to show. Kelly noted just how important her relationship with Kim Hendricks has been so far.
"She's been so incredibly helpful… I definitely think she's saved me on some days," said Kelly.
"I text her all the time with different questions. Sometimes after a sleepless night, she's there to reassure me that things do get easier. She's definitely my rock when it comes to that."
The unique reality of their situation is certainly not lost on Cam. He recalled the first time he had to leave the twins and his wife to go on the road. He could only think of one word to describe it.
"Excruciating," he said.
"It's always hard going on the road for that long, leaving your wife and your dog… But once you have twins and you've got more responsibility at home, it's tough leaving. When you're not able to help, hold them and tuck them in at night, that's been hard."
Like any expecting couple, Cam and Kelly knew teamwork was going to be a mandate. Adding another baby to the fold further emboldened this promise to one another.
"The reality of two meant it would be a lot harder when he was away, knowing we'd probably need some extra help. But he's so helpful when he's home," said Kelly.
"The night before games, Kelly is really good at managing things so I can try to get rest before games," said the new dad.
"But if we don't have a game the next day, I try to give her a break. If they are up separately, I try to do most of the feedings… It's definitely a shared responsibility but we're both very conscious of helping each other out when the other one needs it," continued Cam.
Despite the ups and downs of first-time parenthood, there's a look in his eyes- he speaks with a particular fondness that can only be brought on by feelings of pride.
He recalled the first day he spent with his new babies in the hospital.
"I had that whole day with them and it was amazing-Learning how to change a diaper and how to swaddle them properly. It took me a while but the experience was amazing."
He smiled as he remembered a picture he posted on Twitter the day they were born, both babies swaddled in their hospital blankets and wearing matching blue and pink caps embroidered with their initials. He laughed and said that you can definitely tell he had swaddled baby girl Sloane because the blankets weren't as tight as neat as her brother's.
Kelly smiled and was quick to note that Cam, being the studious new dad he is, quickly mastered the art of the swaddle.
She continued as she described some of the unique challenges they've faced as new parents to twins and mentioned the times Cam has returned from a road trip during the first few months.
"It's definitely a new adjustment whenever he comes home from the road, they'll be just a little bigger and something has changed," said Kelly.
"I have figured out my ways to help them. For him, it's just figuring out what he can do to soothe them in his own way. He almost has to relearn what works whenever he gets back because they change so much, so quickly… We are definitely figuring out our own unique routine," she finishes.
The new parents agree a combination of routine and teamwork has been a huge help in navigating the tricky waters of first-time parenthood. Given the ups and downs, sudden moves and often uncertain circumstances of a professional hockey player's career, all of which Cam and Kelly have been through together dating back to Cam's playing days at the University of Alabama-Huntsville, it's clear the pair is more than prepared for the journey ahead.
Cam thought back to some advice given to him from Matt Hendricks.
"The first thing he said was to get ready for the ride of your life. He said it's going to be tough for the first little while, but that he wouldn't change it for the world," said Cam.
"I wouldn't either."
By Cait MacPhail • View More In Depths • Special Photo Credit: Kelsy Nielson