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X-Factor: Preds needs offense from Kostitsyns

by Adam Kimelman

The Nashville Predators acquired Andrei Kostitsyn from Montreal at the trade deadline with the hope that playing with his younger brother Sergei would reinvigorate him.

The move worked, as Andrei clicked upon arrival in Nashville, totaling 12 points in 19 regular-season games. He added a goal and an assist in five playoff games against the Detroit Red Wings.

Now the Predators hope Sergei Kostitsyn can re-discover his scoring touch.

Sergei Kostitsyn
Sergei Kostitsyn
Left Wing - NSH
GOALS: 1 | ASST: 0 | PTS: 1
SOG: 4 | +/-: -2
Sergei had just two goals and five assists in 18 games after Andrei came to Nashville -- the two goals were the only ones he scored in his final 21 games -- and just one goal in five games in the first round against the Red Wings.

However, that goal was a big one, as he finished a 2-on-1 break with a wicked wrist shot that beat Wings goalie Jimmy Howard with 3:30 left in the third period and provided the game-winning goal in a 3-2 win that give the Predators a 2-1 series lead.

Having a game-winning goal under his belt is nice, but the Predators need more from Sergei Kostitsyn, as well as linemates Mike Fisher and Martin Erat. They had just two assists each in the first round. During the regular season, that trio combined for 60 goals.

Against the Red Wings, it was the second line of David Legwand between Gabriel Bourque and Alexander Radulov that carried the offense, scoring six of the Predators' 13 goals in the first round. But with scoring sure to be at a premium against the Phoenix Coyotes in the second round, the Predators will need offense from every place on the roster if they hope to advance to the conference finals for the first time in team history.

The starting point could be for Sergei Kostitsyn and his linemates to start shooting the puck. Kostitsyn had just four shots on goal in the five games, fewer than all but three Predators forwards who played in every game of the series.

As he showed on his goal in Game 3, Kostitsyn not only has a hard shot, but an accurate one. Two seasons ago, when he had a career-best 23 goals, he scored them on just 93 shots -- a League-best 24.7 shooting percentage that stands as the second-best performance since the 2005-06 season. This season, he took a career-high 97 shots and scored on 17 of them, good for 10th in the League at 17.5 percent.

If Kostitsyn shoots more, the odds are good he'll be able to put a few pucks behind Coyotes goalie Mike Smith -- and that would make the Predators' odds for advancing that much better.

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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