At least for tonight, it felt like the Cam Talbot of last year was back in the building. Instead of giving up early goals that make it an uphill battle from the start for the whole squad, Talbot stood tall for more than an entire game.
If Talbot wasn't the star of the game, it was the posts and crossbar who made enough appearances to have their highlight package;
damon severson is the only new jersey devil to beat cam talbot tonight but he's hit the post both times here in the second period pic.twitter.com/bIaRzLGac9— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) November 25, 2021
wild kill the penalty thanks in large part to cam talbot (also the crossbar) pic.twitter.com/5wdWnUOTjd— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) November 25, 2021
everybody say thank u to the posts tonight pic.twitter.com/4kDfaARCHe— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) November 25, 2021
The New Jersey Devils seemed to have the ice tilted in their favor from the moment the puck dropped. Leading in shots after the first period by a margin of 18-13, the Devils still managed to find themselves down by two goals. The first of the two coming off the stick of the still red-hot Ryan Hartman for his 10th goal in only 19 games.
ryan hartman deflects dmitry kulikov's shot in for his tenth(!!) goal of the season in game 19 pic.twitter.com/zcseaPR1Ue— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) November 25, 2021
His career-high total was 19 in his rookie season way back in the 2016-17 season, and with a bulk of the season to go, he looks well on his way to surpass that. It's hard to understate how important he has been to keeping everything running smoothly for Dean Evason & Co., effortlessly and effectively moving up and down the lineup and from position to position.
The term "utility player" isn't used in hockey, but Hartman is an elite-level utility player.
The game's second — and final — goal came on a Frederick Gaudreau/Nico Sturm shorthanded 2-on-1. Felt weird even writing that, but it happened; we have the tape!
nico sturm's fourth of the year and first career shorthanded goal comes off a beautiful feed from frederick gaudreau on the 2v1 pic.twitter.com/WPHtBdRj8p— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) November 25, 2021
With a solid two-goal lead and the Devils looking like they're about to be goalied, time to coast through the final 40 minutes!
cam talbot robs jimmy vesey after a rough jon merrill turnover. talbot has been very busy tonight pic.twitter.com/NZ6ddFz56F— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) November 25, 2021
cam talbot makes another great save, this time on andreas johnsson after a ridiculous pass from dawson mercer pic.twitter.com/EPSL80dyQk— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) November 25, 2021
Just in time for New Jersey, the Minnesota Wild's instinct to make everything harder for themselves kicked in.
Three minutes into the start of the third period, some mental lapses in the defensive zone resulted in a Pavel Zacha goal to bring the Devils within one.
nico hischier steals it from jordie benn behind the net and feeds pavel zacha for the one timer finish after benn and fiala get caught puck watching, losing zacha pic.twitter.com/FlUz2G7oz5— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) November 25, 2021
The Wild nearly survived an absolute shelling in the third that saw them outshot 13-7, including a lengthy and tense 5-on-3 opportunity for the Devils. But with just over a minute left on the clock, and the goalie pulled, Talbot cracked under the weight of a mountain of vulcanized rubber;
devils tie it. i guess sometimes the other team scores 6v5 but it shouldnt be allowed pic.twitter.com/u9TonAzqRi— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) November 25, 2021
With a whole lot of clock-wasting in the overtime period, both teams decided this game was best left to the Hockey Gods to decide. After standing on his head in regulation, Cam Talbot was perfect in the shootout and sealed the win after Kevin Fiala scored on his attempt.
kevin fiala scores in round two of the shootout and cam talbot stops all three attempts to complete the win and a great night for him pic.twitter.com/aYhI8KMuHf— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) November 25, 2021
How will the Wild handle the absence of Spurgeon?
In short? They survived.
Outshot and unable to slow down the Devils off the rush, it's tough to pin this all on the absence of Jared Spurgeon, but the performance was not excellent. All six defensemen played over 12 minutes, with Jonas Brodin (28:21 TOI), Matt Dumba (24:19) and Alex Goligoski (22:06) leading the charge. According to Evolving Hockey, the Devils held a 63% xGF, with the majority of the chances coming from in front of the net;
It was a poor showing in the Captain's absence. Move on and improve.
Will Fiala continue to produce despite distractions?
For some reason, Fiala was named one of the three stars of the game. He played 16 minutes, had zero shots on net, and was invisible for the most part. He scored the final goal in the shootout, though, so who cares?