Teammates and Nystrom savor his slump-busting goal

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 19, 2011 - 12:35 AM

Eric Nystrom uttered "finally" after his first goal in 42 games.

Eric Nystrom

Photo: Jim Mone, Associated Press

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Eric Nystrom's elation was clear as day. After scoring in Friday's 5-1 Wild smackdown of the Anaheim Ducks, Nystrom uttered the word "finally."

Nystrom's first career power-play goal was also his first goal in 42 games, since scoring an empty-net goal in Tampa on Nov. 14.

"I told the guys after the game, 'Maybe it's just me personally, but I felt a lot of guilt, like I wasn't helping the team,' " Nystrom said. "And that weighs on your shoulders. Still, only two goals, but to chip in and help the team, it feels really good."

As Nystrom raised his arms and the soldout crowd roared, the Wild bench exploded.

"I don't know if he was happier or the other guys were happier," said coach Todd Richards. "That's a sign of a pretty close team."

Nystrom, a stand-up guy who brings character, speed, hard hits and strong penalty-killing to the Wild, had been robbed by goalies and goal posts all year.

"It's a great relief. There's been so many tough breaks," Nystrom said. "You guys don't even know what the mental challenges are when you go through something like that, to stay positive. There's days when you can't even believe it. That was a good breaking point. I felt a lot more confident after that. Hopefully it keeps up."

Zidlicky returns

Marek Zidlicky returned Friday. Guillaume Latendresse might not be too far behind him. These could be the Wild's two biggest moves before the Feb. 28 trade deadline.

"We'll continue to look and see what's there, but I continue to maintain that the best options for improvement reside with the return of Latendresse and Zidlicky," said GM Chuck Fletcher, comments he made Friday morning before Mikko Koivu's hand injury may have changed things that night.

"If you look at it this way, we're potentially adding a 25-goal scorer and 40-point defenseman, and those are expensive assets to find on the market assuming you can even find them."

Latendresse, who's been out since Oct. 25, is scheduled to see orthopedic surgeon Chris Larson on Monday.

"Assuming things go the way we expect them to, he should be cleared to practice," Fletcher said. "We're really at the point where the healing has taken place. Now it's more of getting into game shape and getting his timing back.

"Our record has been very good from January 1 on, and we've won all those games without Gui and Zids. So that's why I keep going back to these guys being significant additions."

Fletcher said he's got "nothing imminent right now," although he'll continue to look. "But it's a very expensive marketplace to get into.''

Etc.

The Wild will wear custom-designed camouflage jerseys during warmups before Tuesday's game against Edmonton. The autographed jerseys will be available in an online auction Feb. 23-March 16 on wild.com. Proceeds will benefit Defending The Blue Line. '

• There's limited parking and space at Saturday's 11:30 a.m. outdoor practice at MN Oval in Roseville, so get there early.

• The March 20 game against Montreal is now a 5 p.m. start.

• With Zidlicky back, Brad Staubitz was scratched.

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