SUN Hockey Pool

Gutsy Prust scores with teammates

STEVE MACFARLANE

, Last Updated: 7:51 AM ET

For Brandon Prust, his goal in Saturday night's win over the Phoenix Coyotes was a milestone -- his first in the NHL.

It was also the game-winner. To his Calgary Flames teammates, it was a fitting reward for the rookie who has put his body at risk in their name time after time.

The energy winger has willingly dropped the gloves against more talented or much larger pugilists three times in six games. He can't claim to have won any of the fights, but he earned the respect of his locker-room for his courage.

"The team was really happy about him scoring because he's been so involved physically for us," head coach Mike Keenan said after Prust's first-period tally gave the Flames a 2-1 lead in what turned out to be a 4-1 win over the Coyotes.

Physically involved might be an understatement. Taking on fellow middleweight Rick Rypien, whose dad was once a Canadian Golden Gloves champion, and heavyweights Steve MacIntyre and Nick Tarnasky is a heavy load, to say the least.

The Oilers' MacIntyre is 6-foot-5 and 250 lb.

Prust, 5-foot-11 and 195 lb., challenged him after MacIntyre floored Dustin Boyd with a blindside hit in the corner.

The bout with Tarnasky, a 6-foot-2, 224-pounder with the Nashville Predators, came about as an attempt to spark an obviously lacklustre Flames squad in the first period of last week's comeback win.

"I've seen him work really hard to get here and to get rewarded -- it's awesome to see him get his first like that," said Eric Nystrom, a good friend of Prust's, and his linemate for the night.

"He's a rugged player. It's going to be a staple of his game: Being a tough guy to play against; a guy who's going to drop his gloves; a guy who's going to have to play hard every night and battle.

"But he's still a guy that can put it in the net. I've seen him score a lot of goals. He's a guy you love to have on your team."

Prust didn't say the goal felt like payoff for putting himself in harm's way, but he was excited to contribute in other ways in the desert.

"It was pretty exciting. Kind of a relief, I guess, at the same time. You're always kind of waiting for that first one, wondering when it's going to come," said Prust.

Taking a hard feed from Wayne Primeau on a two-on-one rush, Prust waited for goaltender Mikael Tellqvist to come across before pushing it past him on the far side.


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