SUN Hockey Pool

Swede night for Backlund

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:34 AM ET

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- There's a place already picked out for Mikael Backlund's precious memento.

The puck from the first NHL goal for the Calgary Flames rookie will soon be on its way to the anticipated spot.

"My dad's coming here soon, so I'll give it to him to take it back (to Sweden) and put it in my room. We have a lot of stuff there," Backlund said.

The club's 2007 first-round draft choice was summoned from the minors prior to Wednesday's game in Dallas, and had an impact on Thursday night's 3-2 shootout loss to the Phoenix Coyotes.

His goal just over eight minutes into the third period didn't make him a hero, but was key to the club earning a point in the standings.

After taking a drop pass from Rene Bourque, Backlund waited long enough for Curtis Glencross to set the screen in front of Coyotes goalie Ilya Bryzgalov.

Backlund fired a perfect shot just inside the far post.

"I pretty much closed my eyes and shot it. I was just trying to get it on the net," he said. "I told Curtis after it was a great screen and from Bourquie it was a great pass. I was screaming as much as I could to get that puck.

"I put it on net, because Bryzgalov was good but every time we put a shot on net, he was giving us rebounds.

"It felt really good. It's an awesome feeling. I was so happy when I saw it in there."

Backlund's chance to play hero came in the shootout, but he couldn't beat Bryzgalov a second time.

"I wish I could have scored. It feels bad we lost after that. I wish I gave the team a chance to win," he said.

After playing a bit part in his season debut in Big D -- his NHL debut came in a one-game spell in Calgary last season -- Backlund was a bigger part of the puzzle against the Coyotes. He was given nearly 15 minutes of ice time, fired four shots on goal and won 11 of 18 faceoffs.

Most importantly, he was more comfortable and more assertive.

"(In Dallas) I was so nervous, it felt like my first game ever. I was more relaxed, and every shift I got, I was doing my best and every shift I felt more confident," he said.

He had a few third-period shifts with Jarome Iginla, and a couple more in overtime.

"I'd love to keep playing with Jarome. He's one of the greatest players in the league," Backlund said. "I'm proud to be on the same ice as him and fortunate to play with him. I hope we can get some chemistry with him."

RANDY.SPORTAK@SUNMEDIA.CA

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THREE STARS

AS CHOSEN BY RANDY SPORTAK

1

MARK GIORDANO

Goal in the final minute of the second period sparked his team.

2

MATTHEW LOMBARDI

Former Flame had a few chances and set the screen on the second goal.

3

MIIKKA KIPRUSOFF

A lot of second-period saves kept his team within striking distance.


Photos