Oilers hold off Wild in Cam Talbot's return
Edmonton goalie makes 29 saves after missing last 7 games
The Edmonton Oilers hope Cam Talbot's return can help stop their roller-coaster December.
Talbot made 29 saves after missing seven games with an undisclosed injury, Milan Lucic had a goal and assist and the Oilers held off the Minnesota Wild 3-2 on Saturday.
Talbot said he felt great after his jokingly self-proclaimed "2 1/2-half week vacation."
He was eased in as the Oilers had 10 of the first 11 shots on goal.
"Sometimes coming off an extended period like that, sometimes you want early work. But they kept the first few to the outside and let me get comfortable, and just battled out from there and just tried to control the game," Talbot said.
"Anytime you get one of your core players or key players back, regardless of position but maybe even more important in [goal] it's calming influence," coach Todd McLellan said. "I felt our team didn't panic tonight."
'We've been playing the right way'
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jesse Puljujarvi also scored for Edmonton, which has alternated wins and losses for nine straight games dating to Dec. 2.
"We've been playing the right way the last five, six games and it seems like every other game we've been getting the result that we want," Lucic said.
The Oilers outshot Nashville 46-23 Thursday, yet lost 4-0. They had 41 shots in a 1-0 loss at Toronto last Sunday.
Matt Dumba scored twice for Minnesota, which lost for the first time in five games. It was also the Wild's first regulation loss at Xcel Energy Center since Nov. 4. Minnesota was 7-0-1 in its previous eight home games.
The Wild were 0-for-4 on the power play and have scored just once in 19 chances over the past nine games.
"I thought some of them we had chances, myself included," said Wild captain Mikko Koivu, who has no points in his past 10 games and has gone 23 games without a goal. "The difference is if you're going to put the puck in the net or not. If I did, or if we did, we're not talking about it right now."
Dumba gets redemption
Lucic gave the Oilers a 2-1 lead late in the second period with a quick shot from the slot after the puck squirted away from a battle between Ryan Suter and Leon Draisaitl.
His pass set up Puljujarvi for a redirect past Alex Stalock midway through the third for a 3-1 lead. Lucic has four goals and six assists in his past 10 games.
Dumba scored with 5 minutes left for the Wild for his second career two-goal game. The defenseman has four goals in his past seven games.
A Talbot save during a scramble resulted in the Oilers first goal — a short-handed tally — when a rebound went directly to Zack Kassian in the defensive end. On a textbook 2-on-1, his perfect feed allowed Nugent-Hopkins to easily beat Stalock for his team-leading 13th goal.
"You give them six power-plays and then when you get your four and you don't take advantage of it and they're plus-1 on it then you're in trouble," Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said.
Dumba, who was caught deep on the Oilers goal, got redemption 4 minutes later as he blasted a feed from Mikael Granlund behind Talbot.
"Those two rolling pucks to the middle, they're tough to read coming off his stick. He does have a good one-timer when he gets it off," Talbot said.