The Nashville Predators played a solid hockey game in route to a 5-3 win over the Calgary Flames front of the sixth sellout in a row at Bridgestone Arena in the only NHL game on New Year's Day.
Sergei Kostitsyn nailed his first career hat trick with 30 seconds left in the game when he raced for a slow moving Kevin Klein shot that was headed for an empty net to give it an extra boost that insured the goal and sealed the Predator victory.
In a jovial postgame locker room, Klein said, "He owes me dinner! I already told him but I'm glad for his first career hat trick. Those don't come too often."
Klein continued when asked about Kostitsyn's burst of speed to get to the puck, "That's the hardest I've ever seen him skate. He was very fast."
For the record, had the puck gone in on Klein's shot, it would have been his first career two goal game. Klein scored the Preds' first goal in the opening period in his first game back after missing six games due to the flu. "I don't really get paid to score so it's not a big deal," Klein related.
Patric Hornqvist also noticed the rush for the third goal, "He really got on his horse and sealed the game for us. It was a big goal and big for him to get his first hat trick."
Kostitsyn was somewhat defensive when asked about his speed to bury his third goal, "Who said that? A couple of guys? I just saw Kleiner shoot the puck and it started going there and I don't think I was going faster than I skated before."
As far as owing Klein dinner, Kostitsyn sheepishly said, "I said 'sorry' because the puck was going in, so he's OK with that. So I owe him dinner. He's going to be OK."
With a more serious tone Kostitsyn said, "It's very nice, especially at the start of a new year. It was a good win against Calgary and put them five points behind us so it was a nice way to get a hat trick and a win tonight."
The Predators had been urging Kostitsyn to shoot more since training camp. Barry Trotz was pleased with Kostitsyn's efforts. "He got three shots. That’s like ten games for him sometimes it seems. He’s shooting the puck and we talked about him just using that to create offense not just to score the goal."
"If he keeps throwing the puck at the net if it doesn’t go in for him it will go in for someone else and I think he’s starting to get the message."
The game was an unusual match for the two teams who had only scored a combined six goals in three prior games this season. Trotz was also surprised, "I was expecting it to be 2-2 and a shootout or overtime. I thought we came out really well tonight."
The team will be rewarded for their efforts with a day off on Monday before reconvening in a special 3:30 p.m. practice that will be open to the public at A-Game Sports
in Franklin on Tuesday when post practice player autographs will be available.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass