EDMONTON, Alberta – Cam Talbot is no stranger to the Oilers, having protected their net for parts of four seasons.
But that doesn't necessarily mean facing their star players gets easier.
"There's no book on guys like that," Talbot said. "They're too good of hockey players to have one shot or one move."
Still, the goalie made it look like he had an edge over his former teammates. Talbot made 38 saves in the Wild's 4-1 victory over the Oilers on Tuesday in front of 14,715 at Rogers Place to secure a season-high seventh straight win at the beginning of a four-game road trip.
This streak is tied for the third longest in Wild history. The Wild has 15 four-plus goal games, which is the most in the NHL.
"I was just trying to stay as patient as possible out there, read off the release, and the guys just did a great job in front of me keeping them to the outside," said Talbot, who was making his first start back at Edmonton against the Oilers since exiting the team in 2019. "Allowed me to control those shots."
Of Talbot's 38 saves, nine came shorthanded as he and the Wild shut down the NHL's best power play.
They also limited the NHL's top two scorers, Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid, to just one point in moving into first place by themselves in the Western Conference.
Even before those two took their first shifts of the game, the Wild was ahead.
The Oilers put the Wild on the power play barely 30 seconds into the game, and the Wild capitalized at 1 minute, 11 seconds when Joel Eriksson Ek jammed the puck in at the near post for his 10th goal of the season. That was the Wild's only power-play goal in two chances.
Eriksson Ek's line doubled the team's advantage at 7:14 when Marcus Foligno drove to the net to finish off a give-and-go with Matt Dumba.
In 25 games, Foligno has 11 goals, which was the total he finished with after 39 games last season and 59 games the season before that. He's also just two goals shy of tying his career best from 2016-17 with Buffalo.
As for Eriksson Ek, he also picked up an assist on the play — his second multi-point effort in as many games, just the second time that's happened in his career.
But as has been the case lately, the Wild regressed in the second period.
Edmonton dominated the shot clock 20-6, and the Oilers converted when Jesse Puljujarvi buried a McDavid pass past goalie Talbot 6:34 into the period.
"They played real well in the second period," coach Dean Evason said. "But we really liked our regroup and how we played in the third period. We did a lot of real, real good things."
The Wild was much more aggressive, defensively and offensively, and the improvement was reflected on the scoreboard.
A pinching Jonas Brodin threaded a pass to Victor Rask for a much-needed insurance goal at 5:33.
"It was a really nice goal," Evason said. "Big goal."
Before that, Talbot made a clutch sliding shot on a Darnell Nurse one-timer. Then, after the Wild was up 3-1, he made a stop in-tight against Draisaitl.,
The Wild rewarded Talbot with another goal as Dmitry Kulikov, another former Oiler, scored on a breakaway with 5:03 to go against Mikko Koskinen, who finished with 22 saves.
"I don't remember the last time I was in a breakaway during a game," Kulikov said.
Kirill Kaprizov tipped Jordie Benn's outlet pass up to Kulikov, his 12th point during a six-game point streak that's tied for the longest of his NHL career.
Those two third-period goals put an exclamation point on another productive offensive game by the Wild, but the team's defense shined — especially Talbot, who has stopped 175 of 184 shots during his five-game win streak for a 1.74 goals-against average and .951 save percentage since Nov.24.
His 14 wins are tied for the NHL lead.
"We gotta fix our second periods, but you can't say enough about the way we close out the games," Talbot said. "Obviously, you don't want to have those lulls in the game. But give our guys credit. We just continue to battle and find ways to win hockey games."