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Preds' Kostitsyn bounces back in rematch with Oilers

The SportsXchange

NASHVILLE -- Sergei Kostitsyn was reluctant to talk about the gaffe that cost the Nashville Predators a chance at victory March 17 in Edmonton.

"That was a long time ago," he said.

What he did Monday night served as redemption for Kostitsyn and another much-needed win for the desperate Predators.

Kostitsyn chalked up a goal and an assist as the Predators won their third straight game, holding off the Oilers 3-2 at Bridgestone Arena.

Nashville's Kevin Klein broke a 1-1 tie in the second period, and Chris Mueller increased the lead to 3-1 before the second intermission.

The Predators (14-13-6) can sweep their four-game homestand Thursday night with a win over the Phoenix Coyotes.

Nashville started the evening in 10th place in the Western Conference, just two points out of a playoff spot. Kostitsyn said moving up in the standings meant more to him than any individual accomplishment.

"The two points I scored are fine, but the biggest thing was the two points we picked up," he said. "We need all the points we can get."

Taylor Hall and Shawn Horcoff scored goals for Edmonton (11-13-7), which dropped its third straight game and remains five points out of the playoff picture.

Edmonton won its last matchup with Nashville 3-2 in a game marked by Kostitsyn asking for a line change and leaving captain Shea Weber to defend two Oilers. The mistake led to the go-ahead tally. Kostitsyn was scratched from his team's next game in Columbus.

This time, Kostitsyn was the offensive star. After Hall's power-play goal gave Edmonton a 1-0 lead at 7:53 of the first period, Kostitsyn potted his third goal at 11:51, converting Mike Fisher's crossing pass into a tap-in past Devan Dubnyk.

Kostitsyn then set up Klein, a defenseman who rushed into the play, for an easy goal at 4:31 of the second period to give the Predators the lead for good.

"Mike (Fisher) came hard to the net, and Sergei made a perfect pass," Klein said. "He gave me a layup. I couldn't miss that one."

Mueller made it 3-1 at 11:33, taking Brandon Yip's pass and smoking a 14-foot wrist shot over Dubnyk's right shoulder.

Horcoff drew the Oilers within 3-2 at 7:03 of the third period, deflecting Ales Hemsky's shot past Pekka Rinne. Horcoff appeared to kick the puck into the net, but the play wasn't reviewed.

Edmonton had two power-play chances after Horcoff's goal in less than five minutes, but the Oilers couldn't produce the equalizer against Rinne, who notched 11 of his 24 saves in the third period.

"Pekka almost looked bored the first two periods," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. "He's better when he's busy, so we got him busy in the third. They had us back on our heels, and we were kind of desperate."

Oilers coach Ralph Krueger was left to wonder why his team couldn't mount that kind of persistent attack for 60 minutes.

"I liked how we played the third period, but when you come into Nashville, you can't play 20 minutes," he said. "You have to play 60 minutes. I don't think we matched their intensity after we scored the first goal."

Meanwhile, Kostitsyn basked in the glow of a big game against the team that made him pay for an infamous blunder.

"I really haven't changed anything, except maybe trying a bit harder," he said. "The whole team is playing well."

NOTES: Nashville right wing Patric Hornqvist returned to the lineup after missing eight games with an upper-body injury suffered in Edmonton's last visit on March 8. The Predators sent defenseman Ryan Ellis to Milwaukee of the American Hockey League to make room for Hornqvist ... Oilers defenseman Ladislav Smid entered the night with 86 blocked shots in 30 games, good for second in the NHL, two behind Brooks Orpik of the Penguins. Smid was credited with two blocks Monday. ... Nashville placed defenseman Scott Hannan on injured reserve with an upper-body injury. Hannan has missed the last four games ... Edmonton center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (illness) returned to the lineup after missing Saturday night's loss to St. Louis, but the Oilers lost center Eric Belanger to a groin injury in the second period.
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