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Kostitsyn struggles to find the net; 'That second year is always tougher,' Carbonneau says // National Post
MONTREAL - Sergei Kostitsyn was a bit of a rookie revelation for the Montreal Canadiens last year, scoring nine goals and assisting on 18 more during 52 National Hockey League games after being called up in mid-December.
In a dozen playoff games, he added three goals and five assists.
But after 10 games as a sophomore, the scoresheet has been a little more difficult for Kostitsyn to find.
"Maybe I've been a little unlucky," he said yesterday, his words about as few as his points. "I'm working. I'm happy with my start."
Surely he's not overjoyed, having scored twice with two assists heading into tonight's game in Columbus versus the Blue Jackets.
After a five-day break, the Canadiens plunge back into action with two games in two nights. They face the Maple Leafs in Toronto tomorrow, featured on Hockey Night in Canada as part of the Hall of Fame weekend.
Goalie Jaroslav Halak gets the start Friday, with Carey Price in the net Saturday.
The Air Canada Centre might help jump-start Kostitsyn, who scored twice and added an assist there in the Canadiens' second game of the season. He assisted again in Philadelphia two nights later but has been firing blanks ever since, pointless in his past seven games, without a shot in three of them.
The 21-year-old will line up tonight with centre Robert Lang and winger Guillaume Latendresse, and he will happily settle for a goal no matter how ugly.
"Off your leg or your head, it doesn't matter," Kostitsyn said.
Head coach Guy Carbonneau will not call the youngster's sluggish start a sophomore jinx. But ...
"That second year is always tougher because you think a little bit more," Carbonneau said. "Ryan O'Byrne is in the same [situation]. Last year, they were playing hard to gain a spot. Now they're playing not to lose a spot. Your thinking is different. If something doesn't work one day, it's like, 'My God, what's going to happen now?' Sergei just has to keep working hard. And harder.
"Everyone knows he has talent and vision, but I always say that talent and skill aren't going to work if you don't work. He's got to get back to working."
Carbonneau drew a comparison to centre Tomas Plekanec, who soldiered through a tough spell before scoring twice and adding two assists last Saturday in the Canadiens' 5-4 comeback win over the New York Islanders.
"Tomas never let down," Carbonneau said. "He worked every game and practice, and stayed after practice to shoot pucks, trying to do things the right way. Now we see the result. Sergei has to do the same thing. And Ryan."
Carbonneau said Christopher Higgins will be reunited tonight with Saku Koivu . Alex Tanguay completes the trio which Carbonneau believes will be "dangerous ... I'm looking forward to seeing what they can do."