AP Hockey Writer
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) – While the Anaheim Ducks dominated the puck and peppered the Edmonton net with shots over the final 2 1/2 periods, Cam Talbot stood tall – when he wasn’t sprawling, diving or gloving everything in sight.
While Connor McDavid is getting most of the attention during the Oilers’ impressive Stanley Cup playoff run this spring, their hardworking goalie is doing much of the hard work to keep them sailing forward.
Talbot made 39 saves, Patrick Maroon scored a power-play goal and Edmonton moved halfway to the Western Conference finals with a 2-1 victory over Anaheim in Game 2 of their second-round series Friday night.
Andrej Sekera scored an early goal for the Oilers, who took the first two games on Pacific Division champion Anaheim’s home ice. Talbot got credit from both teams for the result in Game 2, making all manner of impressive saves while Anaheim dominated the last 30 minutes.
“I felt good off the start,” Talbot said. “I made some big saves early. It kind of gets you in the game. We get a big goal early, which really helped, too. We started the game the way we wanted to start it. Down the stretch, we bent but we didn’t break, and that’s the sign of a good team.”
Game 3 is Sunday in Edmonton.
Edmonton’s first playoff appearance in 11 years is off to a rollicking start, with the Oilers following up their six-game defeat of defending Western Conference champion San Jose by taking two games from the five-time champions of their division.
Everybody in hockey knows McDavid is in his first postseason run after winning the NHL scoring title, but Talbot had just two games of backup playoff experience in his entire career before this spring. He followed up a two-shutout first round against San Jose and a wild Game 1 victory in Anaheim by protecting a lead for nearly 59 full minutes in Game 2.
Although the Ducks dominated long stretches of play in both contests, Talbot stopped 72 of 76 shots in the first two games in Anaheim. The Ducks also hit multiple posts in Game 2, but nothing could get by Talbot, who made most of his tough saves well before the final eight minutes.
“He has had some really good games,” Maroon said. “Two shutouts the last series against San Jose? I mean, he’s been excellent for us. And like I tell him all the time, goalies are supposed to stop the puck.”
Jakob Silfverberg scored and John Gibson stopped 21 shots for the Ducks, who had gone 18 games without a regulation defeat before this series. Anaheim has never recovered from an 0-2 series deficit, losing all seven series after digging that early hole.
Anaheim has lost two straight games after an 18-game run since March 10 without a regulation defeat. Perhaps that’s why the Ducks’ second straight loss at home barely caused a flicker of apparent concern in their calm dressing room.
“We’ve just got to keep doing what we’re doing,” said Silfverberg, who scored Anaheim’s only goal through a screen. “We’re doing a lot of good stuff out there, and it’s the last piece that’s missing, and it’s correctable. We’ve got to make sure that we’ve got more bodies in front of the net. We’re taking a lot of shots, but he’s a good goalie, so we’ve got to make sure to push him back in the net and get in front of him.”
After a four-goal third period in the series opener, the Oilers entered the rematch with plenty of the same energy. The sellout crowd was still finding its seats when Sekera scored just 65 seconds into Game 2, slipping a long shot past Gibson for the defenseman’s second career postseason goal and his first since 2011.
Anaheim gradually turned the period in its favor, but couldn’t score. Edmonton also had golden chances, such as McDavid getting alone and untouched in front of Gibson during a power play, but couldn’t cash in.
Honda Center fell silent when Jordan Eberle’s puck toward the net hit Maroon’s skate and arched over Gibson for the power forward’s second goal of the playoffs. Maroon spent two productive seasons with the Ducks before they gave up on him in February 2016, but he has reinvigorated his career up north with a 42-point regular season.
The Ducks kept up their pressure and finally beat Talbot on the power play with a typically wicked wrist shot by Silfverberg. The Swede got his fourth goal of the postseason, matching his career high from the 2015 playoffs in 10 fewer games.
The Ducks again played without two top defensemen. Sami Vatanen missed his fifth straight game with an upper-body injury, while Kevin Bieksa sat out with an upper-body injury incurred during Game 1.
NOTES: Edmonton F Drake Caggiula played just one shift after the first period, apparently due to an injury. … The Ducks scratched F Nick Ritchie with an apparent case of the flu. Jared Boll replaced him, appearing in the fourth playoff game of his 10-year NHL career. … The Ducks lost the first two games of a series at home twice in the previous three postseasons, eventually losing those series to Nashville and Los Angeles.
Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.