Sergei Kostitsyn did more than just even the score.
Eight days after a significant mental mistake that led to him being benched for one game, the left wing got the game-tying goal and set up Kevin Klein for the one that put the Nashville Predators ahead to stay Monday in a 3-2 victory.
He did it all against the Edmonton Oilers, the opponent he effectively owed one because of his now infamous blunder.
“Against Edmonton? I don’t remember that,” he joked. “It was a long time ago.”
Kostitsyn earned dubious renown across North America for an inexplicably ill-timed decision to end his shift in a March 17 game at Edmonton. The Oilers took advantage of the gaffe with a two-on-one and the go-ahead, short-handed goal in a contest they eventually won 3-2.
Coach Barry Trotz scratched him two days later at Columbus, another defeat. He has been in the lineup since and the Predators have won three straight, all on home ice.
This latest triumph moved them — for now — into eighth place in the Western Conference standings. They are one point up on Dallas and two on San Jose and Columbus, all of which have played fewer games.
“Ever since [Kostitsyn] returned, he returned better,” Klein said. “It’s one of those things where it could go either way. He could feel sorry for himself, but he didn’t. He came back and he’s played great for us since he’s been back. More credit to him.”
Finally, he got the stats to show for it too.
Since he was benched for a game, Kostitsyn has played with Mike Fisher and Martin Erat, who had a combined eight points in the previous two contests. Kostitsyn had none.
Nashville trailed 1-0 in this one when Kostitsyn bolted to the front of the net. Fisher and Erat had just won a battle along the wall and Fisher’s pass to the far post was right on Kostitsyn’s stick and promptly redirected into the open side.
Klein made it 2-1 when Kostitsyn fed him during a scramble play in the Edmonton end. The defenseman patiently waited for bodies to clear and put the Predators up for good with a shot before Edmonton goalie Devan Dunbyk got back in position.
The goal was Kostitsyn’s third of the season, his first since Feb. 18 — a span of 14 games. The assist gave him his fourth multi-point game of the season.
“Sergei is a real intelligent player,” Trotz said. “I’m glad he was trying to shoot the puck today and he got rewarded. Obviously, the situation happened in Edmonton and he served his time. He just wants to contribute now. He did tonight. I thought the Fisher-Erat-Kostitsyn line was really good again.”
In addition to Kostitsyn’s two points, Erat had two assists for his third straight multi-point game and Fisher ran his personal point streak to seven games with an assist.
Most important, though, Kostitsyn showed that he has moved past one forgettable moment that could have defined him.
“I don’t want to talk about it,” he said. “I know I made a mistake but it’s in the past. It was a long time ago.
“… It felt pretty good [to get a goal and an assist] and it felt better that we got two points.”
• Briefly: Patric Hornqvist was activated form injured reserve and returned to the lineup after having missed the previous eight games with an upper body injury. He had two shots on goal and was called for interference in 11:05 of ice time. “I was real cautious with Hornie,” Trotz said. “If I would have played him 20 minutes he would have been fine and absolutely exhausted.” … To make room for Hornqvist on the roster, defenseman Ryan Ellis was reassigned to Milwaukee. Ellis was a healthy scratch in the previous game, Saturday against Columbus. “His game just has slipped in the last little while,” Trotz said. “Hopefully he goes down there and does what he did before he came up.”