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Nystrom's goal gives Flames series-tying win

by Todd Kimberley /

Todd Kimberley | Correspondent

CALGARY, Alberta -- Olli Jokinen's ordeal is officially over.

Jokinen broke out of his 16-game goal-scoring drought in spectacular fashion on Wednesday night, scoring a pair of second-period goals in the Calgary Flames' 6-4 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks at the Pengrowth Saddledome.

Eric Nystrom scored with 6:56 left in regulation to break a tie as the Flames pulled even in this Western Conference Quarterfinal series after watching the Blackhawks erase a 4-1 deficit to tie the score 4-4 after 40 minutes.

But it was a night to savor for Jokinen, who hadn't scored since March 14 at Toronto and had never scored a Stanley Cup goal.

"It's always good to score, but the bottom line is that we came back strong in the third period and won the game. We worked hard, but we just relaxed for those 10 minutes and they showed they can come back," added Jokinen, 30, who's enjoying his first Stanley Cup Playoffs. "We need to keep going, shift after shift."

The Flames' victory in front of 19,289 rabid members of the "C" of Red evened the series at 2-2, with Game 5 slated for Chicago's United Center on Saturday night. The road team has yet to win a game.

Jokinen, acquired by the Flames in a Deadline Day deal with Phoenix on March 4, pounced on a Chicago mistake to break a 1-1 tie early in the second period. Hawks defenseman Cam Barker whiffed on a pass across to Matt Walker deep in his own zone.  Jokinen swooped in on the rolling puck and batted it high over Nikolai Khabibulin's glove.

After Adrian Aucoin made it 3-1 at 8:10, Dion Phaneuf spied a streaking Jokinen, who burst up the right side and lifted a backhander under Khabibulin's right arm, making it 4-1 Calgary at 9:16.

"What a game for (Jokinen). He played great," said Flames captain Jarome Iginla, who scored Calgary's first goal on a power play and iced the game with an empty-netter.

"The last game, we could see, he really turned it up . . . tonight, he was just end to end. You could see him getting in his groove, and loving the playoff (atmosphere)."

Said Chicago coach Joel Quenneville: "We've been giving up a couple of tough ones in the second period for the past two games; now that turned out to be critical."

The Hawks refused to roll over after going down by three. Goals by Kris Versteeg, Cam Barker and Sami Pahlsson before the end of the period tied the game -- setting up a tense, defensive battle in the third until Nystrom slammed home the rebound of Cory Sarich's slap shot from the right point.

It was Nystrom's first career game-winner in playoff action. His father, Bob, had seven game-winning playoff goals with the New York Islanders -- including the 1980 Cup winner, the first of four consecutive championships for Nystrom and the Isles.

"What's not to enjoy? It could have been anybody tonight," said Eric Nystrom, 26, a native of Syosset, N.Y., who also had two assists. "We had a lot of guys who can put the puck in the net, and a lot of guys who were paying the price tonight. I got a good break; (Sarich) got the puck through and I got a quick stick on it and put it on net . . . a good feeling."

As they've done all series, the Flames continued to play a physically punishing style.

Near the end of the first period, Curtis Glencross laid into Duncan Keith as the Hawks defenseman handled the puck in the corner of the Chicago zone, and Iginla finished the job with a devastating shoulder check.

Keith's teeth-rattling shift wasn't over. Seconds later, as Khabibulin stopped play by smothering the puck in his midriff, Jokinen collided with Keith, sending the young blueliner crashing into the right post.

And early in the second period, Calgary's David Moss kept it up by pancaking defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson, who was intent on moving the puck up ice, behind the Chicago net.

"We just want to keep playing the body. Keep playing physical," Nystrom said. "We think we can wear them down by laying on the body.

"When we do that, they're going to start maybe turning some pucks over . . . it's not a genius game plan. It's pretty simple. Crash, bang, throw pucks at the net."

Diminutive Chicago star Patrick Kane returned from a one-game absence due to the flu, scoring the game's first goal.

Despite the win, Calgary's injury woes appear to have deepened.

Center Craig Conroy played less than five minutes of the first period and did not return with an undisclosed injury. With about five minutes remaining, Flames center Daymond Langkow appeared to take a point shot off his hand; he went directly to the locker room.

Left wing Bourque was scratched from the lineup. Bourque had said earlier Wednesday that he'd tweaked his ankle in a Game 3 collision with Brent Seabrook. Andre Roy played in his place.

Also, Flames defensive lynchpin Robyn Regehr missed his ninth straight game with a lower-body injury sustained April 2 in Dallas.

Eric Nystrom does what he does best -- park himself in front of the net -- and swatted home the rebound of Cory Sarich's point shot to give Calgary a 5-4 lead with 6:56 remaining.

Flames defenseman Cory Sarich, playing on a tender foot, stepped up with 23 big minutes, finishing with a plus-3 rating and an assist.

Flames tough guy Andre Roy lined up Jonathan Toews, who was carrying the puck down the right wing and being watched by Adrian Aucoin. Roy put his head down, lowered the boom and . . . missed by a country mile, splattering himself against the boards.

Olli Jokinen ends his goal-less drought at 16 games early in the second period, swooping in on a loose puck coughed up by Cam Barker deep in the Chicago zone and beating Nikolai Khabibulin to the glove side.

Seven Flames and a dozen Hawks have made their Stanley Cup Playoff debuts in this series.


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