WASHINGTON, DC - Last season with the Minnesota Wild, Eric Nystrom(notes) scored just four goals in 82 games, which is one reason he's no longer with the Minnesota Wild. After clearing re-entry waivers last month, Nystrom was traded to the Dallas Stars.
After nine games in Dallas, Nystrom has already matched his goal total from last season -- including his fourth of the year, this goal of the year candidate in the Stars' 5-2 win over the Washington Capitals in D.C. on Tuesday:
"I just came across on a slash, picked it up off the wall. When I picked it up, I was thinking about the 'D' coming across and that I'd maybe shoot it. But [the puck] was spinning. So I put the brakes on. It's hockey. You just instinctively think of something. I just got in position, saw the goalie, tried chipping it over. And it went in," he said.
For Nystrom, it's been an emotional last two months. In the preseason, he made contact with Oilers defenseman Taylor Fedun(notes) on an icing play, who slammed into the boards and broke his femur. Nystrom was harassed on social media over the play, expressing his sincere regret. Soon after, he was put through waivers and then traded to the Stars.
"I've worked so hard this summer to improve my game. And I've been practicing so hard. And it pays off. I didn't really get a chance earlier this year in Minnesota. It's a blessing," said Nystrom.
The 28-year-old winger felt so blessed that he decided to pay it forward while in Washington, D.C. Nystrom said he took leftovers from the Stars' pregame meal to a local park, handing it over to two presumably homeless gentlemen. "Gave them the best meal they had in a long time," he said.
Here's Ryder at 17:16 of the first period, to give Dallas a 2-1 lead:
"I tried to shoot it right away, and I saw the goalie challenge me. I went around him and managed to find a way to get it into the net," said Ryder.
"They've been flying. I'm just jumping in there and feeding off them," said Ryder.
The Stars flew around the ice in D.C., handing the Washington Capitals their first loss on home ice with an impressive statement win that frustrated the home team. How much? Read Mike Knuble ooze his angst over the team's defense:
"You practice it, but it just doesn't happen. It takes a commitment. We practice it in practice; we can't say we're not prepared. We know what we're doing, we talk about it, we watch film about it. And then it's just a commitment to doing it on the ice. Maybe through the first five games I felt top to bottom it was a better commitment. Of late, I don't know if we're all committed. It's sad to say and we all look bad because of the result - because we don't all commit. We look great when we're all committing; we look all like a bunch of clowns when we don't. A very average team when we're not all committed."
The Stars, in contrast, have all bought in to coach Glen Gulutzan's plan.
"That's just how we play, that game right there," said Nystrom. "We just want to be coming in waves. We keeping saying ‘Every guy's the same, every guy's the same.' That's a great mentality."