Thanks for that, Sergei Kostitsyn

Jonathan Willis
March 17 2013 10:52PM

It was a bad night to be Sergei Kostitsyn.

The Shorthanded Goal

We start in the Oilers zone, with the pass going to Sergei Kostitsyn (74 for Nashville) at the point. Unfortunately for Kostitsyn, the puck is bouncing, and will end up hopping over his stick.

Sam Gagner (89 for Edmonton) picks up on this immediately. I’ve had mixed feelings about Gagner’s work on the penalty kill, but one thing he does do is challenge aggressively when this kind of opportunity arises.

Gagner, who takes some flak for his skating from time to time, starts off a step behind but beats Kostitsyn cleanly to the puck. Now it’s a 2-on-2 situation; Shea Weber (6 for Nashville) is between Gagner and the net; Lennart Petrell (37 for Edmonton) is behind Gagner but clear of any of the other Predators.

And here’s Sergei Kostitsyn shrugging off the lost race with Gagner and putting his hand in the air to indicate somebody should replace him on the ice. Hilariously, at the bottom of the screen Nashville head coach Barry Trotz is pointing at Petrell, but Kostitsyn isn’t looking at him. The assistant coach on the left side of the bottom of the screen is shaking his arm vigorously and probably yelling; Kostitsyn is oblivious. The coach's motions will get more frenetic as the play proceeds.

And now it’s a clear 2-on-1.

Weber holds back to play the shot a bit – Gagner’s in a vicious position, as he’ll have a glorious shot if Weber just plays the pass and leaves Rinne to take Gagner. Weber tries to stick check Gagner and as his stick flicks low Gagner makes the pass to Petrell. Roman Josi (59 for Nashville) at the bottom of the screen has just come on for the Predators, and can thank Kostitsyn for the minus he’s about to receive here.

Petrell blasts the puck by the goaltender.

It's an ugly play for Nashville, and one that Kostitsyn will doubtless have trouble living down. Likely it was just a tired player trying to get to the bench, but (as he admits a little further down) even without knowing Petrell was in the picture he should have kept pressuring Gagner as the Oilers' penalty-killer entered the Predators' end. It's a rarity to see such a blatant miscue by a forward in an NHL game.

The Quotes

Ralph Krueger:

I never speak about the other [team’s] players, the decisions they make. I was just pleased that the group came to play like this today and that our specialty teams decided the game. That was really a good thing for the group.

Barry Trotz:

Sergei Kostitsyn

I made a mistake. I went to change, I should have backchecked, but didn’t see the second guy was coming there… Even if it was a 1-on-1, I should go back, it doesn’t matter if I was tired. I should have gone back and pressured him from behind.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including the Edmonton Journal, Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.