“I know I made a mistake, but it is in the past. I don’t want to talk about that,” Sergei Kostitsyn said after the Nashville Predators’ 3-2 win against the Edmonton Oilers on Monday in front of a sold out Bridgestone Arena.
The forward may not have wanted to talk about it, but the lesson was learned.
The last time the Predators played the Oilers, just over a week ago, Kostitsyn seemingly gave up on a play when he elected to go for a line change, resulting in a shorthanded goal that gave Edmonton a 2-1 lead in the third period. Nashville lost the game by a 3-2 score.
Kostitsyn was a healthy scratch for the Predators next contest. However, in the three games since returning to the lineup, Kostitsyn has played well, despite not being able to find the scoresheet.
“He came the next couple of days and worked hard. Everybody knew what he did and he knew himself. Since then, he’s been working really hard,” linemate Martin Erat said.
After Taylor Hall scored a power play goal at 7:53 into the first period, the Predators quickly evened things up when Kostitsyn compensated for his mistake by scoring just shy of four minutes later. It was Kostitsyn’s first goal since February 18th against the Colorado Avalanche.
“[It] felt pretty good and felt better that we got three wins in a row,” Kostitsyn said about picking up the tally.
The 26-year old also picked up the primary assist on Kevin Klein’s second goal of the season at 4:31 into the middle frame, giving the Predators the lead.
Nashville has a three-game winning streak after having lost the four previous contests. While Kostitsyn notes the team’s overall improved play, he did allude to making more of an individual effort.
“I didn’t change anything, maybe trying to play harder. The whole team is playing well, every line is playing well the last couple of games,” he said, adding, “It’s nice to get two points in the standings.”
Kostitsyn’s two-point night helped make the difference on the scoresheet, but so did his defensive play. On the ice during the last minute of play when the Oilers were trying to tie the game, as well as playing a full 2:00 of shorthanded time, Predators head coach Barry Trotz had nothing but praise for Kostitsyn after the game.
“Sergei is almost the smartest guy defensively we have, if not the smartest. He has good awareness around him. He has a good stick. He holds ice and doesn’t drift and doesn’t get stuck to the puck when he doesn’t need to,” Trotz said, adding, “I have a lot of faith in him defensively and when he kills penalties. He has a great stick; he reads the play, and he has a good feel around him. That was the one of the things that surprised me when we got him from Montreal. I was thinking we were getting a one-dimensional, offensive player, and I realized his strength is his defensive awareness and he has great offensive instincts.”
“He’s working hard. He’s doing a lot of good, hard work for our line. That’s what we need. He’s doing what he has to do, and he got rewarded today… He’s playing awesome for us. He needs to keep going. We have 15 [games] to go.”