Nystroms Fight With Agony Turns Into Flight Of Ecstasy
By Doug Gould
Stanley Cup hero Bobby Nystrom got his chance for glory thanks to a
misconduct penalty. Nystrom, who scored two goals, including the
overtime winner Saturday in the Isles' Cup-clinching 5-4 victory
over the Flyers, suffered a neck strain early in the first period
thanks to a cross check by Philadelphia's Mike Busniuk. It hurt so
much, Nystrom thought he might have had to sit out the remainder of
the game. "It hurt me so bad," said Nystrom, "I went into the
trainer's room after the period and told the doctor (Jeff
Minkoff),`Gee,doc, I don't know if I'm going to be able to play
"But he lifted my neck up and stretched it and he made me do some
exercises when I was sitting in the penalty box. But the only thing
that saved me was the 10-minute misconduct, or else I would've
been dead. I wouldn't have been able to go on." Nystrom got his
misconduct when he and Mel Bridgman failed to heed referee Bob
Myers' instructions after receiving roughing penalties. Nystrom
already had spent seven minutes in the box for fighting and roughing
penalties with Bob Kelly, so he spent more than 19 of the games first
28 minutes watching from the wrong side of the rink.
When he finally got on the right side of hockey law, he was
With 14 seconds remaining in the second period, he converted a perfect
goal-mouth pass from John Tonelli to give the Isles a 4-2 lead. "I
honestly thought it was over after that goal, I really did," Nystrom
said. "That's why, when we came into the room after they tied
it in the third period, I was a little upset. But I said, Hey guys,
listen, we've always done it the hard way, and we're just
going to have to do it the hard way again.' "I said a little prayer
before the overtime, too. And I cut a notch in my stick for good luck.
I'm not usually superstitious, but I've had a lot of luck in
overtimes,and I didn't want to treat this one differently.
When you score four overtime goals in a career, it's more than
Nystrom scored the double-overtime winner in Game 2 of the Buffalo
semifinal this year, beat the rangers in the semis last year and did
the same the season before against the Leafs in the quarterfinal
round. Only Maurice Richard, with six OT goals in 133 games, has
more. "I knew I just had to come up big to make up for the way
things were going," he said. "I didn't have a very good series,
there were a lot of goals scored against us (11) while I was on the
The ultimate redemption came with season-ending finality at 7:11 of
the overtime. Lorne Henning took the puck at center ice and broke
John Tonelli into the Flyers' zone. Tonelli drew defenseman Bob
Dailey toward him, allowing Nystrom to streak in ahead of the play.
Tonelli put a pass on Nystrom's stick, and the blond right wing
directed it high over goaltender Pete Peeters.
Long Island went wild after the win. There was dancing in the aisles
at the Coliseum, and almost 10,000 fans waited for the champions to
leave their dressing room two hours after it was over. There were
street celebrations until dawn in East Meadow and Hempstead . . .
Plans for a formal victory parade and ceremony are still tentative.
As of today, the event is scheduled for 7 p.m. tomorrow at the