With a shift in mindset, Sergei Kostitsyn finally is getting more shifts.
One the Nashville Predators’ least-used forwards through the first two months of the season, Kostitsyn has gone over the boards at least 20 times in each of the last three games, including a season-high 23 in Monday’s overtime loss at Atlanta.
In his first 19 appearances for Nashville after being acquired in a trade this past offseason, he had at least 20 shifts just twice.
“He’s coming over to our culture, if you will, and he’s starting to play the way that we want him to play,” coach Barry Trotz said earlier this week. “I think when he’s doing the things that we want it really showcases what he’s capable of doing.”
One thing the 23-year-old can do is produce points.
He has at least one in the last three games and four total (one goal, three assists) over that span, which makes him one of three Predators – center Cal O’Reilly (four games) and defenseman Kevin Klein (three games) are the others – with a current point streak of at least three games.
Thus, when the Predators play at Detroit on Wednesday (6:30 p.m., Fox Sports-Tennessee) he has the opportunity to match his career-long run of consecutive games with at least a point. He had one three-game stretch last season and three others in 2008-09, following a four-game streak (two goals, two assists) from Dec. 20-27, 2007 as a rookie with the Montreal Canadiens.
The increased ice time has coincided with a lineup change that has Kostitsyn on a line with center Marcel Goc and right wing Martin Erat.
Kostitsyn has a plus-6 rating over those three (at least a plus-1 in each) and a plus-7 over the past five.
That has improved his rating for the season to a minus-1. He had a plus rating just twice in his first 17 games.
“I thought Sergei has played really, really well the last couple of games,” Trotz said. “You can just see it.”
He’s certainly played a lot more.
• Predators’ captain Shea Weber is 17th among defensemen through three weeks of fan voting for the NHL All-Star Game.
Weber’s 45,334 votes easily are the most among the three Nashville players on the ballot. Fellow defenseman Ryan Suter has received 12,242 and goalie Pekka Rinne has received 11,969, which is 21st at his position.
Fan voting – online at nhl.com/vote or via text message (the player’s last name to 81812) – continues through Jan. 3 to determine three forwards, two defensemen and one goalie to play in the contest.
• Prodigal Predators’ forward Alexander Radulov leads Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League in scoring – by a wide margin.
Radulov has 47 points in 32 games, nine points ahead of second place. With just his league-leading 34 assists, he has more points than all but three others in the league, but he also has 13 goals.