3 things we learned in the NHL: Talbot gets much-needed confidence boost

Jeff Marek, Doug MacLean, Elliotte Friedman and Brian Burke discuss the play of the Edmonton Oilers in their win over the St. Louis Blues.

A long-awaited win, an impressive debut, and a warm welcome at home. Here are three things we learned in the NHL on Wednesday night.

Talbot’s shoulders get a little lighter

His redemption tour may have only just begun, but Cam Talbot can let out a little sigh of relief after Wednesday’s shootout win over the St. Louis Blues.

The 2018-19 campaign has not been kind to the Edmonton Oilers goaltender, who went into Wednesday’s contest with a trail of six straight losses as a starter.

That much losing can make things feel pretty heavy — especially in a place as isolated as a goaltender’s crease, and in a market as hockey-centric as Edmonton. It’s not exactly great for job security, either, with backup Mikko Koskinen stepping in and taking over the No. 1 spot.

Going into Wednesday’s contest, his first start since Nov. 25, you’d have had to flip the calendar back to Oct. 28 to see Talbot’s most recent win. That was his 99th victory as an Oiler and he’d been stalled there ever since. Well, he can now celebrate No. 100 after a thrilling comeback rally in St. Louis. After letting in two first-period goals that said more about the Oilers’ defence than Talbot’s play, Talbot stood tall with 28 saves. The Oilers’ late comeback rally, capped by Oscar Klefbom‘s game-tying goal in the final minute to force overtime and Connor McDavid‘s shootout winner, looked like it was as much for the two points in the standings as it was for the man in the blue paint.

“Family, teammates, coaches, they’re all rallying behind me. When it’s a tough stretch, those guys always have your back,” Talbot told Sportsnet’s Gene Principe after the game, adding that the win goes a long way in boosting his confidence moving forward. “Every guy in that room has my back, and that means the most.”

Sprong knows how to make an entrance

The best way to introduce yourself to a new fanbase is via the scoreboard, and the Anaheim Ducks‘ newest forward did just that — on his very first shift in his new threads, no less.

Daniel Sprong, who was traded to the California club from Pittsburgh, scored a gorgeous goal in the first period on a tight angle shot that zipped over Corey Crawford’s left shoulder, behind his head and in the net to put the Ducks up 2-0. It was Anaheim’s second goal in just 20 seconds, and it helped the club to an eventual 4-2 win.

The 2015 second-round pick is rarely mentioned without uttering the words “plenty of upside” but the Amsterdam native never really hit his stride with the Penguins. Sprong’s search for a breakout this season fell flat, with the 21-year-old appearing in just 16 games in 2018-19 and registering only four assists while getting limited minutes.

While the struggling Penguins have been searching for ways to insert a little life into their lineup, this move may have done just that for Sprong as he gets a fresh start on the West Coast.

Helene Elliott on Twitter

Sprong on being in SoCal after trade from Pitt: “I saw the sun for the first time in a month so that’s a good sign.

Sharks happy to be home

The San Jose Sharks were back in their natural habitat on Wednesday, and they looked happy to be home in the Shark Tank — even if it’s just for one game. The club just returned from a five-game road stint that saw them lose four and get outscored 21-10. Wednesday’s big 5-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes, which included three helpers from Joe Thornton, bumps the Sharks’ home record up to a division-best 9-3-2 (their record on the road is 5-7-3).

Fun fact: They weren’t in their usual home threads. Call it good karma?

San Jose Sharks on Twitter

Yes, we’re rocking the white jerseys tonight. The Hurricanes asked if they could wear their red jerseys and we said yes. https://t.co/i5qa4RaOSm

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