Nystrom happy to claim Moss-like garbage goals

Eric Nystrom believes hes got more than five goals in him, which is the amount he netted as his...

Eric Nystrom believes hes got more than five goals in him, which is the amount he netted as his career-high last season for the Flames. With his icetime up and four goals already, he looks primed. (Agence QMI)

RANDY SPORTAK

, Last Updated: 6:04 AM ET

Eric Nystrom had a quick description of his goal Saturday night.

"A Dave Moss special," the Flames winger said.

Don't get him wrong. Moss is one of Nystrom's best friends, so his designation of the winning goal in his team's 5-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers was a term of endearment.

It's more how Nystrom scored. After Dustin Boyd stole the puck from Tom Gilbert, Nystrom drove to the net and scored on the rebound.

"He's so good around the crease, always bangs in the garbage," Nystrom said of Moss. "I've seen him score a lot of goals, so I'm proud to take one out of his book."

Nystrom's goal the other night was his fourth of the season. Fun math says the gritty winger is on pace for a 32-goal campaign. It's tough to imagine he'll hit that mark, but it's a good bet he'll set a new personal NHL standard.

Nystrom scored a total of five times last season.

"Things are different this year. The past couple of years, when you have a coach that tells you all the time you can't score, it's hard to have confidence," said Nystrom, who has one assist. "This year, everybody's playing and everybody's playing well. You get that first one early, and the sky's the limit.

"I'm excited, but I want to keep going and make sure it's a lot more past the career high."

A little faith is just part of the difference Nystrom's seen this season.

His ice time is up by nearly four minutes per game, almost all of it coming while at even strength.

"The past couple of years were different. I'd play maybe two or three minutes even strength and then three minutes on the penalty kill. This year, I'm getting more even strength time," he said. "If I want to continue getting that, I have to play well."

However, the coaching staff has told him to believe he can light the lamp. They put it into practice for a game, too, when he skated on a line with Olli Jokinen and Jarome Iginla when Moss went down due to injury.

"They don't coddle you," Nystrom said. "You have to play well if you want to get ice time, so that's all I've been focusing on. I'm making sure I play the role the way I have to play the best I can, and if you score goals, it's great.

"You have to know your role first, accept it, and, through hard work, it's amazing how many chances you get."

ICE CHIPS

The Flames were a couple of skaters shy in practice yesterday. Dustin Boyd, who had an excellent game Saturday, didn't skate due to the flu, said head coach Brent Sutter. Brandon Prust is out with an "upper body" injury. Boyd did take a high stick to the face Saturday, while Prust may have hurt a shoulder in practice last week ... There aren't many aspects of the Flames game going wrong lately, but one is the number of penalties. The Flames have been shorthanded 15 times in the last two games -- 24 times in the last four outings -- and surrendered seven opposition powerplay goals.

RANDY.SPORTAK@SUNMEDIA.CA


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