The Oilers hit the road to play the Canucks, following Christmas break, on Saturday at 8 p.m. MT. The game can be seen on CBC and heard on 630 CHED and the Oilers Radio Network.
EDMONTON, AB – A strong 44-save performance by Cam Talbot and three-point nights from Taylor Hall and Teddy Purcell helped the Oilers down the visiting Winnipeg Jets 3-1.
“It was nice, coming off a tough trip,” said Purcell, who scored two goals in the first. “Everybody is pretty excited to get home and see their family and friends for a few days and kind of recharge the batteries. It wasn’t the prettiest win but any time you see some smiles after the game, it’s a nice feeling.”
Talbot proved sharp early as the Oilers netminder thwarted a Jets shorthanded scoring chance with a post-to-post pad save just under three minutes into the game.
“He was tremendous, wasn’t he? He was really good,” said Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan. “Minute 1-60, he was easily our best player. He was easily our best player. Looked very confident, made some incredible saves. We were very fortunate to have him tonight.”
Hall recorded his 300th career NHL point with an assist on the game’s first goal. Purcell fed a sneaky shot through traffic and it went off a defenceman, then goaltender Connor Hellebuyck before crossing the goal line. Leon Draisaitl also recorded an assist on the goal, at 11:15.
Moments later, that Oilers line struck again. Hall came up the ice with speed and dropped a pass for Draisaitl. The Oilers centre sauced a cross-ice pass to Purcell, who blasted a one-timer past Hellebuyck for his second of the game at 12:59 of the first.
That score gave Purcell his first multi-goal game as a member of the Oilers organization and his first since March 20, 2014 when he recorded two for the Tampa Bay Lightning in Ottawa.
The Oilers took a 3-0 lead at 7:44 of the second period. Purcell set up Justin Schultz in front of the net for the defenceman’s first of the season. With assists on the goal, Purcell and Hall each secured three-point nights.
Schultz’s goal signalled the end of Hellebuyck’s night as the Oilers chased the Jets netminder. Michael Hutchinson came into the game.
Winnipeg made it a 3-1 game at 12:27 of the second. Blake Wheeler’s shot hit the wall behind the Oilers net, ricocheted back out in front and was Bryan Little batted it in out of midair for his 13th goal of the season. The Jets goal was scored as a penalty to Hall expired.
Late in the second, Talbot showed great composure with the Oilers getting into penalty trouble. The goaltender provided a staunch effort against the Jets power play and secured Edmonton’s two-goal lead heading into the third.
“He was great tonight. He was the key to our win,” said Hall. “I’m really happy for him. These last three starts have been strong. He’s really found his rhythm as a starter and that’s a great sign for our team.”
The Jets peppered Talbot with 16 shots in the third, but the netminder shut the door the rest of the way.
“We don’t want to leave (Talbot) out to dry as much as we did tonight,” said Purcell. “I think (the Jets) did a real good job of pushing back, especially the second half of the game. He played well and it’s good to see.”
The Oilers don’t play again until Boxing Day when they faceoff against the Canucks in Vancouver at 8 p.m. MT.
“Heading into the break, that was big for us,” said Talbot. “We didn’t want to head into the break on a losing note. That’s a big two points for our team.”