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Goalie nods: Talbot to make first start since signing $12.5M extension

Edmonton Oilers v Chicago Blackhawks

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 17: Cam Talbot #33 of the Edmonton Oilers follows the puck against the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center on December 17, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. The Blackhawks defeaed the Oilers 4-0. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

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Fresh off a three-year deal with a $4.16 million average annual cap hit -- a contract that’s come under some scrutiny -- Cam Talbot will get the nod when the Oilers take on the Panthers in Florida tonight.

Talbot, acquired from the Rangers at the ’15 draft, has basically experienced two seasons. The first came in his opening two months in Edmonton, a start he called “extremely frustrating.” By early December, Talbot was 3-8-1 with a .889 save percentage and 3.17 GAA, and was in the midst of a brutal stretch in which he’d surrendered at least four goals in each of his last four starts.

Anders Nilsson had wrestled away starting duties, and it was unclear how long Talbot would be an Oiler.

But then his second season began.

Talbot had a strong December, then followed it up with an even better January. He’s posted a sparking .942 save percentage this month, stopping 162 of 172 shots faced. He’s also allowed three goals or fewer in each of his six appearances, and has managed to wrestle away some of the Oilers’ No. 1 duties from Nilsson.

Still, there are skeptics of the deal. While it’s clear part of this move is to get some stability in goal -- the Oilers’ crease has been a carousel over the last few years -- it’s hard to overlook the fact that, at the end of the day, GM Peter Chiarelli took a decent-sized gamble on a 28-year-old netminder without a proven track record of success as a NHL starter.

For the Panthers, Al Montoya gets the start in goal tonight.


-- Brian Elliott continues to carry the mail for St. Louis, with Jake Allen out injured. Elliott looks as though he’ll be up against Jeff Zatkoff, who looks like he’ll give Pittsburgh No. 1 Marc-Andre Fleury the night off.

-- Semyon Varlamov versus Connor Hellebuyck as the Avs take on the Jets in Winnipeg.

-- In Arizona, it’s the in-form Louis Domingue taking on Chad Johnson, who will start for Buffalo.

-- Bit of an interesting move in San Jose, where the Sharks -- looking for their sixth straight win -- will give Alex Stalock his second start in four games. For Ottawa, Craig Anderson’s in.