LAS VEGAS -- He was airtight in the shootout, a brick wall in overtime when the Wild was on the penalty kill and made one – maybe two – save of the year submissions.
But what goaltender Cam Talbot was most proud of was the result of his highlight-reel performance, and that was a 3-2 shootout win over the Golden Knights on Thursday in front of 3,950 at T-Mobile Arena that snapped the Wild's two-game slide.
"I'm just happy with the two points," Talbot said.
With 35 saves through regulation and overtime, and after sealing off the net in the shootout against all three Vegas attempts, Talbot was the backbone of this victory – even holding onto the player of the game bucket helmet despite trying to hand it off to Joel Eriksson Ek since Talbot had it from his 37-save shutout last Thursday vs. St. Louis.
"I thought he should keep it," Eriksson Ek said.
Fittingly, the win was clinched in front of Talbot after Alex Tuch's shootout try sailed wide – this after Kevin Fiala scored the decisive goal on a shot that caromed off the post and goalie Robin Lehner before rolling into the net. Lehner, like Talbot, had 35 saves.
"That was not planned," Fiala said of his second career game-deciding goal in a shootout. "He's a big goalie, so I didn't know what to do to be honest. So, I just decided to go low [blocker].
"It was lucky, but I'll take it."
What made this finish even more impressive – from Talbot and the Wild – is that it came after the team survived a 4-on-3 power play in overtime after Eriksson Ek was sent to the box for goaltender interference after colliding with Lehner.
"Everyone was laying it on the line," Talbot said. "Didn't give them really a chance to tee it up from in close, and everything that they shot I was able to see – which is huge. Boxing out and just the battle level and compete of guys out there, that's what it takes."
The lineup the Golden Knights iced didn't suggest Talbot was in store for a busy night.
Not only was Vegas without Chandler Stephenson, who was suspended three games for an elbowing incident the previous game against Los Angeles, but the Golden Knights were also missing an injured Ryan Reaves.
And since they didn't have enough cap space to make call-ups for those players, they dressed just 10 forwards instead of the usual 12.
But that didn't slow Vegas down early.
Just 3 minutes, 29 seconds into the first period, William Karlsson pounced on a loose puck and wired it past Talbot.
The Wild, looking to avoid its first three-game losing streak of the season, responded just a few minutes later when rookie Kirill Kaprizov redirected in a Jordan Greenway pass from the corner at 7:57 for his second goal in as many games. Kaprizov has three goals and two assists in his last five games, and he continues to lead the Wild and NHL rookies in goals (13) and points (30).
That score didn't change in the second period, with both teams blanking on a power play.
Still, the chances were there for the Wild and Golden Knights to grab the lead. Odd-man rushes were on repeat and while the Wild had trouble converting its looks into shots – missing the net 20 times overall – Talbot kept out Vegas' opportunities.
"We made it harder on ourselves in a lot of different situations," coach Dean Evason said. "So, we definitely have to clean that up."
The entire second period turned into a highlight reel for Talbot.
"Talbot was unbelievable," Fiala said.
His best stop of the season came after he slid across in time to glove down a puck off Keegan Kolesar's stick off a 2-on-1 break.
And on the very next shift, Talbot stuck out his stick just in time to bat down another try from Kolesar – an impressive sequence that helped keep the game tied going into the third.
"They're both just a little bit read and react and athleticism," said Talbot, who's 6-1-1 over his last eight starts. "That's all you can really do in those situations."
Not until Talbot's view was obstructed did the Golden Knights finally capitalize again, a shot by Brayden McNabb through traffic at 1:39 of the third period. The goal was McNabb's first since Nov.21, 2019, a span of 66 games. Tuch and Wild defenseman Ian Cole were set up in front of Talbot on the goal.
Again, though, the Wild answered back – pulling even with Vegas on a one-timer by captain Jared Spurgeon at 5:31 during a 4-on-3 power play, his second power play goal in his past six games. The Wild finished 1-for-3 with the man advantage, and the Golden Knights went 0-for-4.
"If we don't score there … it's probably a tough spot to come back from mentally," Evason said. "Probably they gain momentum, and we don't. So, huge goal."
Spurgeon's goal was set up by Fiala, who extended his season-high point streak to four games, and Kaprizov. As a result, Kaprizov tied Kurtis Foster for the most multi-point games in a season by a Wild rookie with seven.
Kaprizov also became just the third Wild rookie to hit 30 points in a season, joining Marian Gaborik and Filip Kuba. The 23-year-old also became the eighth rookie in the past 10 seasons to require 35 or fewer games to record his first 30 career points.
Individual efforts like that were key for the Wild, especially in the second half of a back-to-back, but what tied them together into a win was Talbot's play.
"I can't say enough good things about the way we battled tonight in a tough building on a back-to-back," Talbot said. "Give the guys a lot of credit for battling through and getting a big two points for us."