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Eric Nystrom emerging from father Bob's shadow

by Todd Kimberley

"His dad is certainly a big influence in (Eric's) life, and I'm sure he's talked to his father about these situations."
-- Flames coach Mike Keenan on Eric Nystrom's father, Bob

CALGARY -- Eric Nystrom already has the pedigree. Now, he's adding the resume.

Nystrom is making his second tour of duty in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with the Calgary Flames. The young forward's tally so far this spring? Four games, and two very big goals — one of them a game-winner Wednesday night against the Chicago Blackhawks.
You might say the acorn doesn't fall far from the tree.

"I love this," said Nystrom, the 26-year-old native of Syosset, N.Y. "I'll do this forever."

"I think he got it from his dad," said Flames coach Mike Keenan following Wednesday's late-finishing 6-4 Calgary victory at the Pengrowth Saddledome, which squares this Western Conference Quarterfinal series at two games apiece.

Bob Nystrom collected four Stanley Cups between 1980-83 for the New York Islanders, notching seven game-winners in the Stanley Cup Playoffs — none bigger than the 1980 Cup winner in overtime of Game 6 against the Philadelphia Flyers.

"His dad is certainly a big influence in (Eric's) life, and I'm sure he's talked to his father about these situations," added Keenan. "Eric told me this story, and I'll share it with you briefly. He said that his father and (Islanders teammate John) Tonelli had had a bad game, but Tonelli said on the bus afterward: 'We're going to be the heroes next game.' And that was the game (Bob Nystrom) got the overtime (Cup) winner."

The Flames flew to Chicago Thursday morning in advance of Saturday's Game 5 (9 p.m. ET, TSN) at the United Center. And as they travelled to the Windy City, the Flames were accentuating the positive. In particular, the composure they showed in Game 4,  pulling one out of the fire after the Hawks rallied from a 4-1 disadvantage to tie the game in a seven-minute span of that middle period.

"It was a real gutsy performance, in terms of our determination and the desperation we showed to come back and finish the game off properly," Keenan said. "A real hard effort from a depleted lineup ... we showed we have people who want to step up and carry the load."

Added captain Jarome Iginla: "In between periods, we stayed positive. We put that aside. And it was great to see (Eric Nystrom) get that (winning) goal."

Nystrom slammed home the rebound of a Cory Sarich point shot past Nikolai Khabibulin with less than seven minutes left in Wednesday's game, snapping that 4-4 tie.

The Blackhawks have "shown a lot of resilience as well in this series, but tonight we were the team that came out on top with some resilience with our own," Nystrom said.

The Flames are somewhat concerned about blowing a one-goal lead in Game 1, squandering a two-goal lead in Game 2, and nearly frittering away that three-goal bulge in Game 4.

"Obviously, we were disappointed with the execution in the latter part of the second period," Flames defenseman Jordan Leopold said. The win was "something to be positive about, but definitely we can't be satisfied. We need to be hungry going into Game 5."

While this series is all knotted up, it appears the 'Hawks may be winning the war of attrition.

Calgary center Craig Conroy, who missed the last two periods of Wednesday's game with an undisclosed injury, is now listed as day to day. So are Rene Bourque, who missed Game 4 with a suspected ankle injury, and center Daymond Langkow, who made a hasty exit Wednesday with about five minutes remaining.

"Lanks got hit in the hand with a shot," said Keenan. "I'm hoping it's just bruised."
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