Mike Halford

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)

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

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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 scrutinyCam 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.

After shuffling defense, Stars recall top prospect Lindell

PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 23:  Esa Lindell, 74th overall pick by the Dallas Stars, poses for a portrait during Day Two of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft at Consol Energy Center on June 23, 2012 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
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Dallas is about to see what it’s got in Esa Lindell.

After putting Jordie Benn on IR and sending Jamie Oleksiak to the AHL on a conditioning stint, the Stars had an opportunity to bring a new d-man into the mix — so, enter Lindell, the 21-year-old Finn that’s made a name for himself over the last couple of seasons.

A third-round pick in 2012, Lindell first raised eyebrows as part of the Finnish team that captured gold at the 2014 World Juniors, finishing third on the team in scoring while leading the team’s blueline in points, with five.

Last year, he left his SM-liiga club to play for Dallas’ AHL affiliate in Texas.

This year, he’s been arguably Texas’ best player.

Lindell has 25 points in 42 games and was named to the annual All-Star Classic, though it’s unclear now if he’ll be able to participate.

There’s an opportunity in Dallas for some serious minutes — Benn was averaging just under 16 per night, and the bottom pairing hasn’t really been solidified all season long, as the likes of Oleksiak, Patrik Nemeth and Jyrki Jokipakka have rotated in and out.

Related: Dallas has ‘deepest bench of defense prospects in the league,’ says owner

Kane, Bennett, Kopitar named NHL’s three stars of the week

Patrick Kane

Chicago’s Patrick Kane, Calgary’s Sam Bennett and Los Angeles’ Anze Kopitar have been named the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Jan. 17, the league announced on Monday.


Kane tied for the League lead in points with seven (4-3—7) as the Blackhawks (31-13-4, 66 points) won all four starts to move into first place in the Central Division.

Bennett led the League with six goals (6-0—6) in three games as the Flames (20-20-3, 43 points) gained three of a possible six standings points.

Kopitar tied for the League lead with seven points (2-5—7) in three games as the Pacific Division-leading Kings (28-13-3, 59 points) gained four of a possible six standings points.

Another huge performance from Kane, who continues to strengthen his Hart Trophy candidacy on a weekly basis. Kane now leads the NHL in goals (29), assists (40) and points (69). He’s on pace to smash his career-high in points — 88, scored during the 2009-10 campaign — and, at this current rate, could flirt with the 120-point plateau.

The last player to score 120 or more in a season? Sidney Crosby, in 2006-07.

Downie clears waivers, off to Coyotes’ AHL affiliate


There were no takers for Steve Downie, which means he’s headed to the American League for the first time in nearly eight years.

Downie, who was waived yesterday by the Coyotes, went unclaimed and will now be assigned to the club’s AHL affiliate in Springfield, per GM Don Maloney.

It’s the latest in what’s been a tough year for the 28-year-old. Downie only played in two games this month, which included a 7:12 stint in a 2-0 loss to the Devils on Saturday. He’s been a healthy scratch on a number of occasions recently and, prior to that, had missed a fairly significant period of time with an upper-body injury.

Signed to a one-year, $1.75 million deal this summer, Downie was expected to bring his trademark grit and energy to the Coyotes, but it didn’t really materialize.

Now, he’s off to the AHL — a league he hasn’t played in since the 2008-09 campaign, when he split time between the Tampa Bay and Philadelphia organizations.


Ekblad out two more games — including tonight’s grudge match versus Hendricks, Oilers

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The stage is set for tonight’s Oilers-Panthers game at BB&T.

Yes, it seems weird hyping a Monday nighter between Florida and Edmonton, hardly the fiercest of rivals, but this one is different — today, the Panthers ruled out star defenseman Aaron Ekblad for another two games, as he continues to deal with the ramifications from a hit from Edmonton forward Matt Hendricks.

Hendricks, of course, is eligible to return tonight… from his three-game suspension for boarding Ekblad.

It’ll be interesting to see how Florida handles the situation. The club is in a bit of a funk, having followed up its impressive 12-game winning streak with a three-game losing skid, during which it’s only managed to score three goals.

There’s a chance head coach Gerard Gallant — who, as the above video shows, was livid with Hendricks’ hit — instructs his players to focus on the game, the two points at stake, and all those other terrific cliches.

But it’s hard to see the Panthers not engaging the Oilers and/or Hendricks at some point.

Shawn Thornton is confirmed to be playing tonight, per play-by-play man Steve Goldstein. He leads the team in fights this year, with four, trailed by fellow forwards Derek McKenzie and Alex Petrovic.

Petrovic, it should be noted, is one of two Panthers that fought Hendricks in game Ekblad got hurt. Logan Shaw was the other.