SUN Hockey Pool

Nystrom would rather win

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:08 AM ET

Although he’s riding a career-high three-game goal-scoring streak, Eric Nystrom is hardly in the mood to celebrate.

The only thing on his mind is the fact the last goal, a tip-in of a third-period Cory Sarich point shot, came during the Calgary Flames’ 4-3 loss Sunday to the Minnesota Wild.

A win would be reason enough to be happy.

Nystrom has set a career-high with 10 goals this season, but he would easily trade that in for a playoff position.

“I couldn’t care less if

I score in 20 straight games, if the team is winning that’s more important,” Nystrom said Monday after the Flames returned home from Minnesota.

“If the team is losing, it doesn’t matter. It’s nice to put a few in the net but I would much rather be secure in a playoff spot right now.

“When you score in a winning cause, it feels much better. When you score and lose, all you can think is ‘What’s the difference? We still lost.’

“We need goals from everybody right now. Bottom line.”

After the Olympic break, Nystrom was paired with Curtis Glencross and Jamal Mayers on the fourth line.

The trio started to click right away as an energy line.

The goals Nystrom has scored in the last three games haven’t been complicated.

He’s getting in the traffic zone in front of the net

to either get a stick on a point shot or put home a rebound.

“Going to the net is a big part of it and the guys I’m playing with are doing a good job of getting the puck to the net,” said the 27-year-old, who was a first-round draft pick

in 2002.

“It doesn’t have be a pretty play. If you throw it through the crease and it tips in, those still count. It doesn’t have to be a tic-tac-toe play.”

When Glencross was hurt against the Colorado Avalanche last Wednesday, rookie Mikael Backlund replaced him on the unit and the trio has kept on going the past two games.

The Flames were struggling to score goals in January

during a long losing streak, and the message from their coach was to drive to the

net.

Nystrom knew what he had to do, but it’s a lot tougher than it sounds.

Now it seems Nystrom is getting into those hard-to-reach places the same time as the puck.

“It’s not like we’re not trying to get there,” Nystrom said.

“The defence do a great job of boxing you out. It’s a hard spot to get to.

“You need to time it right. It’s not like the old days when you go to the net and get cross-checked 100 times in front of the net.

“It’s just the defence do a great job keeping you to the outside.

“It’s not easy to arrive there at the same time as the puck. The odd time it does work out.”

ian.busby@sunmedia.ca


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