The Oilers were able to douse the Flames in a shootout, rallying from down 1-0 in the third to tie and force more hockey past regulation. Here are five things from Sunday’s result.
1. TALBOT TIME
“I feel better now than I think I have in my career.”
Cam Talbot has found his game. It’s almost fitting that he’s expressing those thoughts following the Oilers 2-1 shootout win over Calgary. It was a 5-4 loss to the Flames on Halloween in this same building that was the pretext to a span in which Talbot sat and watched Anders Nilsson start 15 of the next 18 games.
“Every goalie goes through those stretches, and I think I had mine at the beginning of the season,” said Talbot. “It’s just one of those things where your confidence takes a hit for a little bit there… I just worked on my game, got my confidence back up and I’ve just kind of felt comfortable and confident ever since.”
Talbot has now started 10 of the last 12 games. He has a .941 save percentage in these last 10 starts, including .949 in his last five.
He made 31 saves in the Oilers win over Calgary on Saturday, including a remarkable glove save early in the first on TJ Brodie.
“I feel more confident, I feel more patient, I feel I’m seeing the puck pretty well out there and I’m as comfortable and confident I’ve been these last three years I think,” said Talbot.
2. FAYNE'S FIRST
It took Mark Fayne 33 games to score his first goal of the season, but the first one was a big one. Fayne’s goal at 10:37 of the third period tied the game against Calgary, eventually leading to overtime and the deciding shootout.
Fayne has had an up-and-down season. He’s dealt with being scratched as well as being sent down to the minors, but Head Coach Todd McLellan likes the defenceman’s play as of late.
“I think he’s played quite well lately,” said McLellan. “He’s been able to get our penalty kill going. Obviously, the game in Arizona wasn’t real good but he wasn’t really involved in any of that. Over and above the goal, which is a bonus for him, he’s been very solid against good players on other teams.”
McLellan added, “He’s a little more aggressive I think. He’s more involved in the play, he’s got a better gap, better reads, confident with the puck, quicker, he’s got an extra half-step right now. If he can continue that, he’s one heck of a good defenceman for us.”
3. PK BOUNCEBACK
The Oilers were frustrated with their penalty kill a few games ago. On Saturday, it was a big part of their victory.
In Arizona on Tuesday, the Coyotes scored on three of their power-play opportunities, and they scored their first goal of the game as a penalty expired, going on to win 4-3 in OT.
On Saturday against Calgary, Talbot and the Oilers PK kept the Flames off the board on all five of their attempts.
It was especially big early in the game.
“When we spend eight of the first 24 (minutes) penalty killing, that’s the game right there,” said McLellan. “If they get two or three, we’re not exactly scoring a lot of goals right now, so that’s the game. The penalty kill, the last six periods and overtime, has done a tremendous job after getting dinged up in Arizona. That’s Talbs, that’s defencemen doing a good job, that’s forwards sacrificing and getting it done.”
4. PURCELL PICKS HIS SPOT
Teddy Purcell’s name was called upon in the shootout and the Oilers winger delivered. Purcell was the lone shooter to score in the skills comp, lifting the home team to victory.
Purcell chose to go five-hole on Jonas Hiller, giving him a career record of 7-for-25 in shootouts.
5. IMPORTANT STRETCH
Next up for the Oilers is a three-game road trip, which includes a back-to-back in Florida. Edmonton plays the Panthers on Monday in Sunrise, then Tampa Bay for a Tuesday showdown with the Lightning. Following a practice day on Wednesday in Dallas, they play the Stars on Thursday.
That leaves just one game left before a long All-Star break. The Oilers return home to host the Nashville Predators on Saturday.
The Oilers have played eight straight games which have been decided by one goal. Getting their offence going on this road trip is of the utmost importance.
“This is a huge trip for us," said Talbot. "I think we just have to keep playing the way we’ve been playing defensively. I think after the first period, we really settled down there. And a few of our last games we’ve been playing really well in our end. Good defence is going to lead to good offence. Once the goals start coming, I think we’re going to start winning those one-goal games and not have to worry about going to a shootout and stuff like that. The goals are going to start coming for us.”