Cam Talbot makes 35 saves to lead the Oilers to a 4-1 win in Minnesota
SAINT PAUL, MN --Cam Talbot stopped 35 of 36 shots to lead the Oilers to a 4-1 win over the Minnesota Wild at the Xcel Energy Center on Thursday night. Darnell Nurse, Leon Draisaitl, Ty Rattie and Zack Kassian got the goals for the visitors.
Edmonton returns home on Saturday against the San Jose Sharks. The game can be seen on Sportsnet and Sportsnet 360 plus heard on the Oilers Radio Network, including 630 CHED. Puck drop is 5:08 p.m. MST.
"We played the way we have to play to win. We had a lot of good grinding shifts, timely goals," stated Oilers head coach Ken Hitchcock. "Three of the last four games, we've played excellent. Really really good hockey. We played the same way in the third period today as we did in Montreal. We've got a blueprint for success on the road and need to take our road game back home."
A big reason for the success was Talbot, whose 35 saves helped carry the team, particularly in stretches in the first and second period when the Oilers were facing a barrage of shots.
"This is every night. He gives us a chance to win and I thought the guys played hard for him and he played hard for them. He's got some confidence going and that's good for him," Hitchcock noted.
Talbot's primary motive was getting the two points for the team.
"This was a big team win. We needed this one. This is a tough building to play in. Our start was great, we got on them early and did the little things we need to do to win," Talbot began. "I didn't feel bad the other night, thought I made some big saves in that one too but I just wanted to have a good start tonight and settle it down for the guys if they needed it."
Only 2:15 in, Darnell Nurse one-timed a blast from the left point, after Zack Kassian skated into the zone then dished it to Connor McDavid. McDavid quickly spotted Nurse cruising into the zone and backhanded a feed to him at the point. His shot beat Dubnyk high glove side.
Ty Rattie was clipped by Ryan Suter deep in the Wild zone 25 seconds after the goal and the result was an interference call on the Wild defender and the Oilers first power play of the night but Oilers were unable to generate much on their initial man advantage.
A puck went into the Oilers bench and clipped Oilers head coach Ken Hitchcock in the face. He went into the dressing room to get looked at. He missed about five minutes of action before he returned to the bench.
"My reflexes are a little slower, I'd say," Hitchcock chuckled. "That'll teach me for looking for the next line change. I was reading it and the puck came up and hit me."
Minnesota didn't get a shot on goal until midway through the opening period but had more chances in the latter half of the frame. Shot count after 20 ended up being 8-6 for the Oilers.
Less than five minutes into the second, Nugent-Hopkins made an excellent play to centre the puck over to Ty Rattie whose quick release snuck by Dubnyk just off the ice to double the Oilers lead.
"We keep saying we've been playing well but just tough finishing out games," said Rattie. "We're a confident group and know what we're capable of. We improved on it and played the full 60 minutes."
Shots in the middle frame were 15-5 for the Wild and 21-13 overall for the home side but the only goal in the second period was scored by Edmonton.
Nearly three minutes into the third, Joel Eriksson Ek was alone in front and quickly one-timed a feed from the slot in past Talbot to draw the Wild within a goal.
Several minutes later, Kris Russell was clipped by Jason Zucker and ran into the net. He was shaken up on the play and went to the dressing room for repairs but returned shortly after. Zucker got two minutes for interference to send the Oilers on the power play.
It only took the Oilers 20 seconds to connect with the power play goal. Draisaitl completed a beauty three-way passing play with Nugent-Hopkins and Chiasson, one-timing a blast by Dubnyk to put the Oilers back up by two.
"The power play goal was a great play and great goal and gave us some breathing room," said Hitchcock.
With Dubnyk on the ice for the extra attacker, Zack Kassian broke free and fired the puck top corner to ice this one.
Hitchcock made sure to point out the effort of Oscar Klefbom, who didn't make it to the scoresheet but was +1 in 23:55 of icetime.
"This just shows you what Klefbom is worth to this hockey club. He was outstanding and a dominant player on the ice," he said.
"You get a player that's that dominant it's an awful good feeling for the team."