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Backlund scores for mom's recovery

Mikael Backlund, scores on Chicago Blackhawks goalie, Corey Crawford, in first period action at the...

Mikael Backlund, scores on Chicago Blackhawks goalie, Corey Crawford, in first period action at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary on Monday February 7, 2011. (DARREN MAKOWICHUK/QMI AGENCY)

STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:29 PM ET

Mikael Backlund couldn’t have timed his last couple of goals any better.

Forget the fact they’ve helped his Calgary Flames win NHL games against the Atlanta Thrashers and the Chicago Blackhawks, his sixth and seventh tallies of the season have been as good as painkillers back home in Sweden, where his mom, Ann-Mari, is recovering from surgery.

“I told her I’m going to try and score for you. You’re with me all the time, and

I feel bad I’m not home with you. I’ve thought about it a lot,” Backlund said of his mom, who went under the knife Monday to improve circulation on her leg after struggling with blood clots the last couple of years.

“I talked to her (Tuesday). She was really happy. She said to me, ‘In 20 minutes, you’re back on the sports news again.’ When she woke up, she put the sports news on TV and said I was on.

“She said it makes her day, and she’s reading a lot about me on the Internet, and it feels really good.”

It’s having quite an effect on the 21-year-old centre, too.

He scored his first game-winning goal in the NHL last week in Atlanta and opened the scoring Monday against the Chicago Blackhawks with a brilliant backhand shot after faking to the forehand.

His confidence appears to be on the rise.

“I feel a lot better now than I did at the beginning of the season,” Backlund said. “I was feeling nervous. I played a few games last year, but I was still a little nervous. As the year’s gone on, I’ve been more and more comfortable around the team and with our system and the level of the game.”

Playing 23 NHL games last season gave him a small sampling of life in the big league.

He started this season with the Flames but was sent down to the AHL in December after a stretch of healthy scratches.

When he returned in early January, Backlund offered up an assist in his first game and has three goals and four points in his last eight — not bad when you consider he’s played more than 10 minutes in just two of his 15 games since being recalled.

“After my call-up, I’ve been playing really good. I’ve been feeling really fast and a lot of confidence,” Backlund said. “After sitting out, you don’t want to go back there again.”

His defensive game is pretty solid, and now he’s working on letting the offensive creativity that got him drafted 24th overall by the Flames in 2007 creep back into his game.

If he works as hard on his game as he did on getting his mom to quit smoking a couple of years ago, he’ll achieve his goal.

“I protect my mom. I want her to do well. I was happy when she quit,” Backlund said. “Two years ago, she had a blood clot. She was smoking at that time. I’ve always been ticked at her doing it. I told her nothing good can come of it.

“First, she had problems walking, but then she got better. Still, every time she’s working out and trying to run do whatever, she’s been having pain.

“She’s been struggling the last couple of years because of that, so it’s good for her to finally get the surgery. She has some pain right now, but it’s going to be better for her soon.”

Every goal he scores in her name helps.

steve.macfarlane@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/MacfarlaneSteve


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