CALGARY – A career night for Eric Nystrom was supposed to feel a whole lot better.
Despite scoring four goals against his former team, Calgary got two goals from David Jones and the deciding shootout goal from Sean Monahan in the Flames 5-4 comeback victory over the Nashville Predators.
“We had it in our hands and we let it slip away,” Nystrom said quietly, as he sat dejectedly in his locker.
Drafted 10th overall by the Flames in the 2002 NHL Draft, Nystrom had never scored more than twice in 457 career games.
“I’ve had some really bad luck this season so it’s nice to be rewarded but at the same time, it really means nothing when it comes to a win and a loss,” he said. “I’ll take the win every day of the week.”
Trailing 3-1 entering the third period, Calgary climbed back to within one on Jones’ first goal in 18 games at 1:24.
After Nystrom restored the two-goal cushion at 10:47, the Flames answered right back less than two minutes later with Mikael Backlund deflecting in Kris Russell’s point shot for Calgary’s third power-play goal of the night.
Jones tied it at 13:36, deflecting Brodie’s shot over Devan Dubnyk’s shoulder.
“It feels great. We’ve been on the other end of this so many times so to come back twice from two goals down, that means a lot for our team,” Jones said.
In the shootout, it was tied 1-1 after three shooters, with Jiri Hudler scoring for the Flames and Roman Josi connecting for the visitors, when Flames coach Bob Hartley gave Monahan the tap on the shoulder.
The Flames 19-year-old leading scorer made no mistake notching his third goal in six attempts this year—all of them the deciding goal.
“Huds came down and brought it to his backhand and something opened up so I tried to do the same thing and fortunately enough, I found a spot through his five hole,” said Monahan, who says he enjoys having the game on his stick.
“It’s pretty crazy. The crowd’s pretty loud there. It’s a little bit of pressure on you but as a hockey player, you’ve got to like being in those situations and that’s something I like to do,” Monahan said.
Reto Berra clinched the win and improved to 4-0 in shootouts this season, sprawling acrobatically to get a pad on a deke from Ryan Ellis.
Berra, 27, has yet to win a game in regulation in his first year in the NHL. He’s 6-14-2 with his other two victories coming in overtime.
Despite having a big night, Jones was happy to watch the shootout from the bench.
“I try to hide in that situation,” said Jones with a chuckle. “I like the guys we have in it. They know what they’re doing and this Monahan kid is something else.
“Once I knew he was going. I was ready to just get off the bench because I knew we were going to get the two points.”
Mark Giordano also scored for Calgary (18-27-7), which wins consecutive games for the first time since Dec. 12 and 14. The goal extends Giordano’s points sreak to a career-high six-games (3-3-6).
With the single point, Nashville (23-22-8) moved within seven points of one of the two wildcard spots in the Western Conference, currently held by Minnesota and Vancouver.
But it was the point that they didn’t get that the Predators were talking about.
“It’s frustrating,” said Nystrom. “Three out of four on this road trip is good when you look at the big picture but right now we’re in such a race, we need every point that we can get.”
Nashville coach Barry Trotz pointed to Jones’ goal early in the third as the one that turned the game around.
“They scored the second goal, it’s 3-2 and they have all the momentum,” said Trotz. “Then we played losing hockey where we’re trading chances. That’s now how you play. The whole game and the momentum changed on the second goal.”
Nystrom entered the night with one goal in his previous 19 games, but he wasted little time giving Nashville the early lead as he fired a shot past Karri Ramo from the slot just 1:51 into the game.
Nystrom made it 2-1 1:50 into the second then made it 3-1 five minutes later, tipping Paul Gaustad’s shot from deep in the corner over Ramo’s shoulder.
Ramo was promptly pulled by Flames coach Bob Hartley after Nystrom’s third goal, leaving the game with nine saves on 12 shots. It was the first time Ramo had been pulled this season.
“I went to Karri and I told him, I’m trying to turn the game over. They were two flukey goals,” Hartley said. “It seems that we were just falling into the hole that we were digging ourselves. Sometimes you need to change the momentum.”
Dubnyk was making his second start since being acquired from the Edmonton Oilers on Jan. 15 in a trade for Matt Hendricks. He had 27 saves while Berra, in relief, had 12.
Notes: The Flames had multiple power-play goals for just the second time since Oct. 21. The last time they had two was Dec. 23… Nystrom had 19 goals and 20 assists in 204 games with Calgary over parts of four seasons… Paul Byron (foot) returned to the Flames line-up after missing one game. Scratched for Calgary was RW Brian McGrattan (foot) and D Ladislav Smid (undisclosed)… The Flames win for the first time (1-3-2) when Jones scores.