The Oilers host the Colorado Avalanche Sunday night at 7:30 p.m. MT. The game can be seen on Sportsnet ONE and heard on 630 CHED and the Oilers Radio Network.
EDMONTON, AB – Cam Talbot was outstanding, making 40 saves and backstopping the Oilers to a 2-0 shutout of the Vancouver Canucks.
“I’ve said a few times now, I feel more confident now than I have pretty much my whole career,” said Talbot, who secured his 11th career NHL shutout. “I just keep trying to build game after game and give these guys a chance to win every time I’m in there. The guys have been playing some pretty solid hockey in front of me so I’m just going in there and trying to give them a chance.”
Talbot improved to 13-0-1 all-time when making 35-plus saves in a game. He has a .960 save percentage in those games. He is also an impressive 6-0-0 all-time when facing 40-plus shots in a game.
Even on a self-described off night for the Oilers roster, Talbot managed to negate mistakes and shut the door.
“Everything is not magnified,” said Oilers winger Jordan Eberle. “If there’s a mistake, it’s not in the back of your net. No one really notices it. He’s been there. He’s been there this last, later part of the season here for the most part. He’s been the hero most of the games. Every good team has that and he’s been playing really well.”
The Oilers were outshot 40-25 for the game, including 32-17 in the final 40 minutes.
“It’s hard to criticize a win,” said Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan. “You have to look at things objectively and I thought our team was real sluggish tonight. We started well, we played the first 10-15 minutes with energy and after that we fell off. Not a lot of support. It was one man and four guys watching. As a result, we played in our end a lot and our goaltender needed to be superb and he was.”
The Oilers had one of their first good offensive looks at 8:18 of the first with Taylor Hall centring a pass in front for Iiro Pakarinen. Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom made a big save to keep the game scoreless.
With Oilers winger Zack Kassian in the penalty box for slashing Matt Bartowski, Edmonton had a shorthanded chance late in the first. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was turned away on his shorthanded rush and the puck harmlessly left the zone with the final seconds of the first ticking off the clock. The Oilers killed off the rest of that penalty to start the second period.
The Canucks nearly jumped ahead 1-0 shortly after. Vancouver’s Brendan Gaunce and Edmonton’s Darnell Nurse battled on their way to the Oilers net 5:29 into the second. Gaunce fired a shot, then the two players slid into Talbot and the side of the net. The puck trickled in underneath the goaltender, but after a lengthy review it was ruled no-goal. It appeared as though Gaunce batted the puck in with his hand on his way to the ice. The game remained scoreless.
The Oilers broke the scoring open at 11:10 of the second. Eberle zipped a shot five-hole of Markstrom for the 1-0 lead. Connor McDavid recorded the lone assist. The goal was Eberle’s 22nd of the season. McDavid’s assist tied him with Philadelphia’s Shayne Gostisbehere for fifth in rookie scoring, and leaves him 10 points back of Buffalo’s Jack Eichel for second.
The Canucks came out with some hustle to start the third period. A long shift in the offensive zone for the Canucks drew a Mark Fayne hooking call on Daniel Sedin and gave the visitors a power play. The Oilers penalty kill was, once again, up to that challenge maintaining their slim one-goal lead.
That lead increased thanks to the Oilers fourth line and a player who previously had just three goals on the season.
Matt Hendricks put Edmonton up 2-0 at 6:03 of the third by driving to the net and burying a rebound. With Kassian planted in the face of Markstrom, defenceman Jordan Oesterle fired a shot on net and Hendricks skated through the rebound. Pakarinen recorded the second assist.
“Pretty simple formula, but sometimes it’s hard for guys to believe in it until they see it,” McLellan said of the goal.
Talbot was fantastic in the third period, making 16 huge saves to seal the victory.
“You look at the best teams in the league and they all have that goaltending,” said Eberle. “Maybe some nights your team is a little off and you have that goalie there to backstop you and give you a win, and he’s done that.”
The Oilers close out their five-game homestand by hosting the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday at 7:30 p.m. MT.