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Nystrom’s Penalty Shot the Difference in Nashville’s First Triumph

Nystrom Penalty Shot

Oct 8, 2013


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Eric Nystrom may never win an Art Ross Trophy, but he has certainly unleashed a scoring touch early this season.

In the first period of Nashville’s Tuesday night contest against the Minnesota Wild at Bridgestone Arena, with the Predators up 2-1, Nystrom had a break on netminder Niklas Backstrom but was slashed by Wild defenseman Keith Ballard, sending him crashing into Backstrom.

Nystrom was awarded a penalty shot on the play, but Backstrom was forced to leave the game with a lower body injury.

“I definitely had an opportunity to get a shot and that got prevented,” Nystrom said. “I think if you get the shot off, I don’t think that call is the same, but I was in position to get it. I don’t even know how I went down but I thought I had a pretty good jump on it.”

Because Backstrom was injured on the play, backup goaltender Josh Harding was forced to come into the game with no warmup and face Nystrom on the penalty shot.

“I had a cold goalie going in there and got a little bit of advantage playing for Minnesota, so I had shot on Harding before,” Nystrom said. “I kind of had an idea of what I was going to do.”

What Nystrom did was bury the puck on Harding’s left side, giving Nashville a 3-1 lead and scoring his first goal as a Nashville Predator.

“Against an unconventional goalie where they catch the other way, that’s kind of the spot I like to go for,” Nystrom said. “I had that in my mind the whole way  I was going in and it kind of ramped off of his stick and went in the top shelf, but I was going right over the low blocker side. He went in cold and the first shot he had to face was a penalty shot, so that’s pretty unfortunate for Minnesota.”

Nystrom actually saw Harding quite a bit during the 2010-11 season, which he spent with the Wild. During Nystrom’s season with the Wild, Harding was recovering from ACL and MCL surgery, but they still saw each other in practice as Harding recovered.

“Honestly, as soon as I saw Harding go in, I knew what I was going to go with,” Nystrom said. “I had the advantage of playing with those guys, for sure – just knowing somewhat what I was going to do.”

“I’ve gone against him tons,” Nystrom said. “Just a whole year of practice shooting pucks on him. He’s a great goalie. He’s actually an amazing athlete in general. It definitely was a little advantage. If it was a goalie I had no idea about, maybe it’s not the same, but it went in.”

Nystrom obviously made a strong impression on the Nashville fans by scoring on a penalty shot right off the bat. With the Predators giving up a second period goal, Nystrom’s tally ended up being the game-winner in Nashville’s 3-2 win.

“It was awesome,” Nystrom said. “You couldn’t have scripted it any better. To score a goal like that in that dramatic fashion and have it be the game-winner against your former team, it’s pretty exciting. It’s fun to play here and get our first win of the season. A lot of guys played well and some of the young guys contributed. Overall, it was a lot of fun and a great night.”

Getting the eventual game-winner against his former team felt all the sweeter.

“It’s a team that I kind of had some unfortunate circumstances with and I wasn’t particularly happy with the way I got treated there,” Nystrom said. “What better way to score a game-winning goal and help the team win.”

The win was Nashville’s first of the season, their first since last season’s home finale. The goal was Nystrom’s second point of the season, leaving him on a 54-point pace.

“We lost the first couple of games, but we did so many good things and our work ethic is so strong on this team,” Nystrom said. ‘Obviously we have a lot of young guys and have to work out the kinks to get the timing down and work out some of the unforced errors, but our work ethic has been there and we were due for a win. It was good to get it in the home opener.”

Photo Credit: Sarah Fuqua