Islanders legend Bob Nystrom’s loyalty was tested as he was forced to choose between his beloved team and his son Eric’s Nassau Coliseum debut, but he received the best of both worlds with last night’s outcome.
While the Islanders prevailed in a 3-2 come-from-behind win over Calgary after suffering two straight shutouts, “Mr. Islander” witnessed a standout effort from his son.
With his father’s retired No. 23 hanging in the rafters up above, Eric Nystrom delivered a performance worthy of his father’s lasting legacy in Islanders lore, finishing with a goal and an assist for his third multi-point game of the season.
“It’s a thrill,” said the elder Nystrom, best known for his game-winning overtime goal to seal the Islanders first Stanley Cup in 1980. “Me and my wife have been waiting for this game for a long time. To see him play here and play well, it’s phenomenal.”
The Syosset-born Nystrom picked up an assist on the Flames’ first goal, dishing to Cory Sarich before Nigel Dawes tipped it in at 9:13 of the first to tie the game at 1.
The 27-year-old winger then gave the Flames a 2-1 lead in the second period when he swept behind the net and slipped one through Martin Biron’s pads at 13:08.
“I’m sure never in a million years he never thought his son would be playing in the NHL and playing in the same arena as he did, so I think this is a pretty proud moment for him,” Nystrom said. “Too bad we couldn’t come out on top because that would’ve really made it a great night.”
But the home team didn’t roll out the red carpet just for the Islander royalty.
Instead, they erased a 2-1 Flames lead with a pair of goals in the third period.
Matt Moulson tied the game with his 27th of the season to open the third period only 28 seconds into play and Bruno Gervais gave the Islanders the go-ahead goal at 11:31 with a slapshot just one second after a Flames penalty expired.
“He’s a good player and coming into this building where his dad had so much success was probably an intense feeling and you’re going to play your best in that matter,” said Biron, who made 21 saves to halt a three-game skid.
But the Islanders were happy to spoil Eric's visit to Uniondale despite his father's illustrious 14-year career with the organization. Especially after an atrocious 5-0 loss to the Rangers the previous night.
“To be able to look each other in eyes this morning and assess the situation is something good,” Biron said. “You never know how you’re going to respond…to be able to slowly pick away at it, that was a great feeling.”
Notes and Quotes: Kyle Okposo praised the NHL’s new head shot rule just hours before its implementation last night. "Obviously the league needs to do something to protect the players. There's been so many head injuries this year that they kind of had to do something. It's definitely a step in the right direction." Mark Flood made his NHL debut last night after being recalled on an emergency basis for the injured Dustin Kohn, who suffered a head injury during Wednesday’s game