(AP) — Ville Koistinen‘s wait was well worth it.
Koistinen, a 2007 AHL All-Star with the Milwaukee Admirals, scored his first NHL goal and it turned out to be the winner in the Nashville Predators’ 4-3 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday night.
"We have over 80 games, so I knew it was going to come sometime," Koistinen said.
The rookie defenseman didn’t get frustrated by his lack of scoring, but the goal was surely a welcome lift for his teammates.
"It is a goal I will remember all my life," Koistinen said. "I haven’t thought about it that much, but I knew it was going to come.
"I am not a big goal scorer. I have never had more than nine in a season. I like the passing part of it. That is a big part of my game."
Predators coach Barry Trotz has often called Koistinen the best defenseman on the team. He saw nothing Thursday to make him change his mind.
"The puck-distributing part of Ville’s game is really solid," Trotz said. "He has a lot of life in his legs right now. Ville gets the job done with his feet. He has been good. He had a huge goal."
Koistinen scored the winning goal with 1:45 left when he shot a loose puck between the left post and Fredrik Norrena’s stick.
It was the 300th win for both the Predators and Trotz, marking the 18th time a coach has won 300 games with an NHL team. Scotty Bowman did it with Montreal and Detroit. Lindy Ruff, who has 377 wins with Buffalo, is the only other coach who has reached the milestone with his current team.
"It’s great for the franchise," Trotz said. "It says we have been around for a while. It is big for the organization in our 10th year. Every win is a part of Predators history. It is a milestone, but we hope we can carry on and have even bigger milestones."