When hunting the Wild, you've got to have a killer instinct.
Eric Nystrom showed his in the third period to snap a tie and give his Calgary Flames a 2-1 victory over the visiting Minnesotans last night at the Saddledome.
The fourth-line winger said instinct took over when his buddy Dustin Boyd bounced a puck off the boards and into open space to spring him on a shorthanded breakaway.
Nystrom wasn't even sure where the finishing move came from.
"Not a clue. I was just saying it was just like an instinctive play. I came back to the bench and was like, 'Holy cow, I can't believe that just happened,' " Nystrom said of the fake shot that froze Wild goaltender Josh Harding enough to allow a deke to the forehand for the game-winner.
"Sometimes, you just get into the moment, and that's what happened."
What a moment it turned out to be.
Out-hoofing Brent Burns to the loose puck after the Wild defenceman batted Boyd's chip out of the air, Nystrom used his body to protect it and then charged in alone on Harding.
As excited as Nystrom was to score his second of the season, the bench was even more elated as he came by to bump gloves.
"The fact it was a shorthanded breakaway, game-winner at a crucial point in the game makes it more special," Nystrom said.
The way the fourth line has been playing recently, it shouldn't come as a surprise Nystrom and Boyd played such a big role in the outcome of last night's game.
Cycling the puck around with linemate Andre Roy in the first period, the grinders finally got things going for the Flames, who faced an aggressive and desperate start from the slumping Wild.
Dominating the second half of the first period, the home team could only mount a one-goal lead thanks to Daymond Langkow's late deflection of a Todd Bertuzzi pass into the crease.
The Flames had chances to pull away from their Northwest Division rival in the second, but instead allowed their potential prey to regroup.
It took a video review to confirm it, but with 15 seconds to play in the middle frame, the Wild fired back.
Stephane Veilleux pulled the trigger after Eric Belanger sent the puck out front on a broken play, slipping it under Miikka Kiprusoff's arm and off the middle bar behind him.
Against the Wild, things are rarely pretty.
The Flames figure it's a sign of a good team that they found a way to pull off a victory in a game that was anything but wide-open.
"We've got to win those close games regardless of how we're playing or the other team's playing," said Boyd.
"We've just got to make sure we come away with the win any way possible."
It wasn't a fluke, though. Boyd hoped Nystrom would be able to make something happen when he banked the puck up the ice.
The two had talked about it before the last game, maybe even on one of the roommates' drives together to the rink.
"Didn't know he had that in him," joked Boyd.
"He made a great move and Harding bit hard."