Call it Nystrom's night

Eric Nystrom celebrates his second goal against the Canadiens on Tuesday. (Sun Media/Al Charest)

Eric Nystrom celebrates his second goal against the Canadiens on Tuesday. (Sun Media/Al Charest)

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:16 AM ET

His first career hat-trick didn't stand up, but Eric Nystrom had a career night anyway.

The last of three goals originally credited to the gritty Calgary Flames centre was finally given to Staffan Kronwall, but there's no denying Nystrom's massive role in the 4-3 Flames victory over the Montreal Canadiens last night at the Saddledome.

He spent more time in the penalty box after fighting Kyle Chipchura than he did on the ice, but Nystrom made the most of his minutes.

"I think that was the longest period of play without a whistle," Nystrom said of waiting for a stoppage in play to exit the box after the scrap in the second period.

"I was sitting in there for 15 minutes."

Opening the scoring eight minutes into the game, Nystrom capitalized on his hard work and that of his energy line partners -- they're too good to be called a fourth line -- when he spun and swatted a loose puck into the top corner over goaltender Jaroslav Halak's blocker.

Fitting he finished the play, because Nystrom started it with a solid hit on former Flames defender Roman Hamrlik to pop the puck loose.

Then came the feisty fight and some laughs with Chipchura when it was over.

"I was just saying he threw about 10 punches and five of them landed. I was like, 'How accurate are those things?' " Nystrom said with a laugh.

"Luckily, they didn't do much damage."

Nystrom continued to do just that. He scored on his next shift.

Buzzing around Halak's crease with the Flames down a goal, Nystrom was the only thing the Habs goaltender could see as Adam Pardy's slapshot from the point slipped through traffic.

It hit Nystrom on the way in.

"I was so tired I couldn't even celebrate," he said.

He had a great view of the winner from the slot looking for a tip when Kronwall fired a quick shot from the point.

The puck hit defenceman Josh Gorges' stick and flew up into the corner.

Nystrom is three goals shy of the five he had last season.

Jarome Iginla has seen his share of goals in the past, but hadn't scored in the first two games, leaving some nervous Nellies a little worried about their captain until he netted one on the powerplay in the second period.

"I hope I never go two games again without scoring, but it may happen," Iginla said after facing scrutiny from some members of the media this week. "It's fine. But it's a lot better, those questions, when we're winning."

The Flames haven't opened a season with three wins since the 1993-94 season.

The energy line has a lot to do with that despite not logging a lot of ice time.

"It's huge momentum when they not only go out and play in their end and are physical and playing with energy, but they've had a lot of results in the first three games" Iginla said. "It's a huge swing."

Overcoming late-period goals in the first from Scott Gomez -- set up by former Flame Michael Cammalleri -- and Guillaume Latendresse, and a second-period marker in the final minute from Tomas Plekanec wasn't easy, but Kronwall's seeing-eye slapper did the trick.

Of course, the hats rained down for Nystrom. He didn't scoop any as souvenirs.

"I wanna save it for when I get my first real one," he said with a grin. "Tonight was still a good night."

STEVE.MACFARLANE@SUNMEDIA.CA


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