LAS VEGAS – Between the second and third periods Thursday night at T-Mobile Arena, trust was the topic of conversation in the Wild's locker room.
After goaltender Cam Talbot fended off the Golden Knights during a string of odd-man chances in the second to keep the game tied, it was clear the players had no problem putting their trust in Talbot to come up with those saves.
But the coaches wanted the players to reciprocate that vibe.
"We talked to the group to give Cam something to trust in them and trust that they're going to make the right plays, trust that they're not going to turn the puck over, trust that they're not going to give him four 2-on-1s that he's going to have to make a brilliant save on," coach Dean Evason said. "We have to get to that point. Obviously, it's a team game. But [Talbot] sure held us in there."
That's the flipside of a show like the one Talbot put on in the 3-2 shootout win against Vegas.
He was superb and he had an opportunity to be superb because of some of the miscues that were going on in front him, like the buffet of rushes the Wild was serving up to the Golden Knights.
Talbot answered the call, even producing his best save of the season – a glove stop on Keegan Kolesar off a 2-on-1. But whether he has to continue to bail out the Wild will likely be indicative of the long-term direction of the team, which will be back in action against Vegas on Saturday to finish up this road trip.
"To make those timely saves, they're making timely mistakes," Evason said, "and when you make those timely mistakes, he has to come up with it. That's clearly what the goaltender is there for, the last line of defense. But we can't continue to put ourselves and our goaltending in that position."
Limiting those odd-man rushes is one way to alleviate the pressure on Talbot.
And although both sides were getting their fair share of looks, the Wild didn't want to get into a track meet with the Golden Knights.
"No, we don't want to play like that," center Joel Eriksson Ek said. "We don't want to leave Talbs [out] to dry like that. We want to help him a lot better. I think he deserves better. We gotta play harder for him and not give up so many chances. It's going to be tough if we do. We gotta clean that up and keep going forward and be smarter with the puck."
Where the Wild did, ultimately, outlast Vegas was in the shootout, and the extra hockey might have been advantageous to the Wild.
The Golden Knights were playing only 10 forwards because they didn't have enough salary cap space to make any call-ups and although Evason said the coaches didn't bring that up with the team, they did emphasize short shifts.
"We just wanted to roll our lines as much as we could and grind and try to make it really difficult for them in all areas," he said. "We didn't do that early, but we thought eventually it might have helped us in the end."
In overtime, Vegas received a power play after Eriksson Ek was called for goaltender interference for colliding with Robin Lehner. But the Golden Knights didn't capitalize, with Talbot snuffing out two shots from William Karlsson and another from Max Pacioretty – a gutsy sequence by the Wild to setup a win in the shootout.
"When we killed it, I got relieved," Eriksson Ek said "I want to win this game for Talbs, who played an amazing game for us. I was lucky we were able to kill the penalty."