Ottawa Senators goalie Cam Talbot had himself a night on Tuesday.
In front of over 20,000 fans – the biggest Canadian Tire Centre crowd in 6 years – Talbot set a club record with 49 saves in the Senators’ 3-2 shootout win over the Boston Bruins.
Most saves made by a goalie in a regular season win – @Senators history:
49- Cam Talbot (Denying all but 2 shots then getting it done in a shootout to defeat the Bruins 3-2 earlier tonight)
47- Craig Anderson (February 19, 2011 vs TOR)
47- Anton Forsberg (December 2, 2021 vs CAR) pic.twitter.com/xEYFivBjEL
— StatsCentre (@StatsCentre) December 28, 2022
Five other Senator goalies (Anton Forsberg, Robin Lehner, Anders Nilsson, Marcus Hogberg and Craig Anderson) have also made 49 or more saves in a game. But they were all losses, as you might expect. Talbot’s record was for most saves by a Senator goalie in a winning cause.
Allowing 51 shots in a game is usually a perfect recipe for losing, especially when facing a team like Boston, the number one team in the NHL right now. The Bruins had entered the game in first place overall, five points clear of the entire league, with only 4 regulation losses all season. Yes, four.
Not only did they unleash a high quantity of shots on Talbot, the quality was there too. On at least half a dozen occasions on Tuesday, Talbot brought fans out of their seats and pucks back from the dead. He then saved his best for last, standing on his head in the third period while the Sens were nursing a one goal lead and being outshot 27-5. He was great again in the shootout, stopping all three Bruins’ shooters.
“That was a fun hockey game,” said Talbot. “A lot of big efforts from guys tonight. Never an easy task, going up against the number one team in the NHL after four days off. So give the guys a lot of credit, we battled hard tonight.”
These are better days for Talbot, who’s had an up and down year in 2022. He was an all-star in Minnesota, then unseated by Marc-Andre Fleury at the trade deadline. Talbot was traded to Ottawa in the summer and then fractured a rib in his first preseason game, missing all of October. Upon his return, the Sens went 1-7 in his first 8 starts.
But Talbot has more than shaken all that off. Since November 25th, he’s posted an 8-4 record, while Anton Forsberg has only started in 4 games, posting a 1-3 mark.
When the season began, it was unclear if the Sens would have a true number one starting goalie or not. Back in March, Forsberg had just signed a three-year, $8.25 million contract. Amidst in the incessant injuries and inconsistency of Matt Murray, Forsberg was rewarded for providing the Sens with a goaltending lifeline last season, and would be counted on to do more of that this season.
But everything changed in July. Murray was traded to Toronto, and a day later, Talbot was acquired from Minnesota. Talbot wasn’t here to back up anyone. He came here ready to win the number one job, which he’s now done, starting 12 of Ottawa’s last 16 games.
Is Talbot Ottawa’s answer in goal beyond this season? Now in the final year of his contract, that’s something the Senators will have to decide soon. Talbot and his family have bought a house here and he’s wide open to the notion of staying.
If he were 26 and playing this well, it would be an easy decision. But he is the league’s seventh oldest goalie, turning 36 this summer. From the other six, Marc-Andre Fleury, the guy who replaced him in Minnesota, along with Jonathan Quick in LA, are the only two older NHL goalies who’ve started more than half their team’s games this season.
If the Senators can get Talbot to agree to a one or two year contract, they need to hand him a pen as soon as possible. Beyond that, things get a little more complicated. For now, when you have a goalie capable of single-handedly stealing games for you – like Talbot did on Tuesday – you just ride that for as long as you can.
By Steve Warne