Talbot, Oilers hold off winless Hurricanes
EDMONTON, Alberta -- The Edmonton Oilers found some much-needed redemption Tuesday night in the form of a 3-2 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes.
The red-faced Oilers were trying to right their ship after an embarrassing 6-2 loss to the short-staffed Buffalo Sabres on Sunday, a defeat that prompted the players and coaches to move a scheduled day off from Monday to Wednesday so they could fix their problems in time for this game.
It seemed to work.
They led 2-0 after 20 minutes and 3-0 after 40 at Rogers Place before surviving a late scare from the Hurricanes to improve to 3-1.
”It wasn’t pretty,“ Oilers coach Todd McLellan said. ”To get up three and give it back to them was not part of the game plan. Neither was giving up a number of free looks at our net in the first seven minutes of the game, but we had a good bounce-back night from (goalie) Cam (Talbot).
“If he wasn’t the first star, he should have been. We’re really happy for him.”
Carolina certainly put a scare into the hosts.
The Canes, who are on the road for six straight games to start the year, were desperate to get their first win before the fatigue catches up. And it showed.
They launched a furious comeback attempt, rallying to make a game of it in the third period on a pair of goals from Lee Stempniak.
The right winger scored at 3:18 and 4:14, but they couldn’t finish the job and fell to 0-1-2.
“We were right there. We had some chances, good chances throughout the game, and just never really finished up with them,” Stempniak said. “It’s a matter of keep applying the pressure and try to find a way to get one and get back in the game. We had two and we were pushing right to the final buzzer.”
After slow starts in their first three games -- allowing a goal in the first three minutes of each one -- the Oilers drew first blood this time. Winger Anton Slepyshev scored the first of his NHL career at 1:51 and winger Jordan Eberle scoring his third of the season at 9:22.
They went up 3-0 on a wrist shot from Tyler Pitlick 2:35 into the second period.
Then they withstood the Carolina assault.
“I like the way our group picked up after their second one,” Eberle said. “We played in their end a bit more and weathered the storm. Any time you’re up three goals, sometimes the game gets into a bit of a lull, the losing team kind of picks up. We’ve been on the other end of it. You start getting tons of shots and think you’re going to come back.”
Talbot, whose wife is scheduled to deliver twins by C-section Tuesday morning, had a strong game despite the off-ice distraction: He stopped 31 of 33 shots after allowing six goals in the Buffalo game.
“I needed a big bounce-back game after the game I had last time,” he said. “As a team, we’ve kind of let losses snowball in the past, and this time we came out hard. We talked about being a tough, resilient group, and that’s what we were tonight.”
He said he was able to put his family situation aside for just long enough to get the win.
“I tried to leave that at home for the three hours I was here,” he said. “I knew I had a job to do tonight before that. I knew I’d feel much better going in there in the morning with two points, so that was my focus coming to the rink tonight.”
The Canes, meanwhile, are still searching for that elusive first win.
“It’s tough to go down,” center Jeff Skinner said. “When you go down early on the road, you want to show some composure. We had a little miscommunication on some of the goals. We did a good job battling back and we put ourselves in a good situation with a power play with three minutes left. You’d like to capitalize and tie the game there.”
NOTES: Oilers D Mark Fayne moved into the lineup at the expense of Mark Gryba, but played just 2:27 before leaving the game with a lower-body injury. ... Oilers rookie RW Jesse Puljujarvi was a healthy scratch. “Sometimes it’s good for your development to watch a game,” coach Todd McLellan said. ... Oilers C Drake Caggiula, LW Matt Hendricks, D Brandon Davidson and LW Iiro Pakarinen remain out “for weeks,” while backup goalie Jonas Gustavsson is day to day with concussion symptoms. ... Hurricanes G Cam Ward is the only player from either team left from the 2006 Stanley Cup final between Edmonton and Carolina. ... Canes rookie Sebastien Aho scored a point in the first two games of his NHL career. ... After finishing 24th in power-play percentage last season, the Hurricanes scored on three of their first six opportunities to start this season.