The Calgary Flames faced a ton of shots on Thursday night against the Minnesota Wild. But they managed to score first, carry a lead into each intermission, and hold on for a crucial victory over the Wild.

The Flames scored first (they’re 12-3-3 when that happens), led after 20 minutes (11-2-1) and 40 minutes (14-1-1). A lot of the credit has to go to their goaltender, who faced 43 shots and only allowed one past him – an absolute cannon from Mats Zuccarello.

Interim bench boss Geoff Ward – now 12-5-1 as coach – praised Talbot’s performance.

“His positioning and his anticipation are really good right now,” said Ward. “I’m sure he sees anything the size of a BB moving across in front of him right now by the way he’s moving. Because he’s able to establish his position so well in the crease, a lot of pucks are hitting him.”

When asked about his team’s defensive play in front of Talbot, particularly their ability to limit secondary chances and keep things to the outside, Ward noted that the team’s improving but still has work to do.

It’s getting better, for sure. 43 is a little bit high. You don’t [want to] give that many up normally. The fact that we’re eliminating second shots and keeping them to the outside is a good thing… The majority of it was from the outside, and so for us that’s good. It says a lot about what we’re doing in the middle of the ice on our tracks and what we’re doing in the middle of the ice on our D-zone coverage.

Talbot concurred with his coach’s assessment.

“I thought our guys did a great job in front of me tonight limiting their second chances and tying up their sticks,” said Talbot, later adding that his teammates did a good job clearing the puck when it did squeak through him.

Arguably the most impressive part of the Flames’ game was their special teams play. Their power play put up nine shots and scored. Their penalty kill didn’t allow a single shot in four minutes. Talbot was impressed with the special teams work in front of him.

“Especially against a shooting power play like them,” said Talbot. “They like to up-over-one-timer, get pucks to the net and let their big guys bang away. We got some big blocks in the first and again in the second period there. Any time you get a goal from your power play and your penalty kill puts together an effort like that good things are going to happen.””

Since the beginning of 2010, the Flames goaltenders have faced 40+ shots on 46 separate occasions. Here’s the leaderboard:

  1. Mike Smith – 10 (5-4-1)
  2. Miikka Kiprusoff – 9 (4-3-2)
  3. David Rittich – 8 (4-1-3)
  4. Karri Ramo – 6 (3-3-0)
  5. Jonas Hiller – 3 (1-2-0)
  6. Reto Berra – 2 (2-0-0)
  7. Cam Talbot – 2 (2-0-0)
  8. Leland Irving – 2 (0-0-2)
  9. Joey MacDonald – 1 (1-0-0)
  10. Brian Elliott – 1 (0-1-0)
  11. Chad Johnson – 1 (0-1-0)
  12. Henrik Karlsson – 1 (0-1-0)

So who’s starting on Saturday against Edmonton? Ward’s not exactly tipping his hand.

“Oh, we’ll talk about that,” chuckled Ward. “Talbs might be so tired he’ll need a couple days’ sleep. It’s a nice problem to have. Sure like the way that he’s rolling right now, but we’ll see how he is tomorrow and sit down, have a discussion about it and we’ll make a decision. He’s certainly playing strong for us right now.”