NASHVILLE – The Predators have suspended forwards Alexander Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn for Game 3 of the playoff series against the Phoenix Coyotes for violating team rules, the team announced Tuesday.
"The Nashville Predators have a few simple rules centered around doing the right things," general manager David Poile said in a release. "We have always operated with a team-first mentality and philosophy. Violating team rules is not fair to our team and their teammates."
The Predators trail the Coyotes 2-0 in the Western Conference semifinal. Game 3 is Wednesday night at Bridgestone Arena.
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Speaking with reporters shortly after the team announced the suspensions, Poile said: "Pretty easy decision. Our creed is always to try to do the right thing. I try to do that in my personal life, so I should try to do it in my business life, and we've just done the right thing. We put the team ahead of a couple of individual players and we'll see where we go from there."
Poile would not expound on the reasoning for the suspension. He would not say when the violation occurred.
"It's just a team rule," he said. "Everybody has the same team rules, and what they did was unacceptable, and coaches and myself had to come to the plate and do the right thing for the team."
Radulov hinted that the team rule could have involved a curfew.
"Like I didn't come back that late as we say, but like I said before, I don't want to talk about it," Radulov said. "I understand what is my mistake and really hope that everything is going to work out better for the team."
The team's leadership group stood beside the coaching staff and management on the discipline for the two players.
"It's (coach Barry Trotz's) decision, we're going to stick behind him. We've won all year with everyone and it's going to take everyone to continue to win," defenseman Ryan Suter said. "We talked. As a leadership group we talked to Trotzy and said whatever you decide, we'll stand by you. We're in the playoffs, we don't need distractions."
"It is what it is and we're going to move forward on this," defenseman Shea Weber said. "It's management's decision. They asked what we thought and we're not in any position to choose. It's up to them, and we're just here to play and play a lot better than we have."
Trotz indicated that Matt Halischuk, Jordin Tootoo or Craig Smith were all possibilities to jump into the lineup for Game 3.
Smith played Game 1 against the Coyotes.Tootoo has played one game this postseason (Game 3 against the Detroit Red Wings) and Halischuk hasn't played since Game 4 in Detroit.
"Let's get back to Predator-hockey plain and simple, back to our identity," Trotz said. "Let's play that team game. Let's be determined on the puck. Let's be relentless. Let's make sure we're taking care of this on both sides of the puck and go from there."