With a goal and an assist when his ailing team needed it most, Kostitsyn made a clear statement to his teammates and his head coach.
“That was probably my best game so far,” confided Kostitsyn, who picked up his second goal of the season on Tuesday night. “They gave me a great opportunity to play a lot tonight and I just tried to take advantage of that. I got a lot of ice time and that gave me even more confidence in my ability.”
It’s been a long time coming for the younger Kostitsyn who has been snake-bitten since the start of the season. After a dramatic banishment to Hamilton and soap opera-like story involving actual and imaginary trade demands, the young winger posted 13 points in 16 games with the Bulldogs before being called back up on November 23. All is forgiven now, and the offensive spark he can bring couldn’t come at a better time for the Habs.
“I thought Sergei wanted it tonight and really moved his feet out there. He made things happen each time he was out,” said Brian Gionta. “We’re going to need everyone to do a little more right now and Sergei did exactly that for us tonight.”
The huge win over the Canucks marked the first time Kostitsyn enjoyed a multi-point game at the NHL level in 42 games, dating back to January 10 against the Capitals last season. His two-point night could have easily been three, as he also came within a hair of scoring a highlight reel goal against Roberto Luongo.
“It’s amazing playing with Pleky and Pouliot,” said Kostitsyn, the game’s second star, of his linemates. “I think we played well together and most importantly, we helped the team win.”
Moved off his usual line with Gionta and Scott Gomez due to Michael Cammalleri’s absence, Benoit Pouliot kept right on rolling alongside Tomas Plekanec and Kostitsyn.
“We just clicked immediately,” admitted Pouliot, who assisted on both of his linemates’ goals in the game. “I had already played with Pleky and Sergei is a good skater who works really hard; he actually plays a lot like Tomas. We were really crashing Luongo’s net there at the end. We could’ve scored a bunch more goals tonight.”
Back in front of the cameras for the right reasons, Kostitsyn appears to have seen the light.
“It’s been a tough season for me so far, but I felt better tonight than I have in a long time,” he confessed. “I just need to play every game like that now.”
Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.com.
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