The Nashville Predators face an even tougher battle down two games to none to Phoenix in their second-round NHL playoff series with forwards Alexander Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn out for Wednesday's Game 3 after violating team rules.
Both general manager David Poile and head coach Barry Trotz say the decision to punish the forwards for violating unspecified team rules was easy.
"The Nashville Predators have a few simple rules centred around doing the right things,” Poile said in a prepared statement. “We have always operated with a team-first mentality and philosophy. Violating team rules is not fair to our team and their teammates.”
Radulov hinted the rule violation may have been curfew, saying he didn't come back that late.
He added he apologized to his teammates and will support them Wednesday night.
The Coyotes take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal heading to Nashville for Games 3 and 4 following victories of 4-3 in overtime and 5-3 in Phoenix.
Radulov was criticized for his performance in Sunday night's 5-3 loss at Phoenix, which dropped the Predators into an 0-2 deficit in this Western Conference semifinal.
He rejoined the team in March after spending the past four years in Russia in the KHL.
Radulov had three goals and four assists in nine regular-season games. The 25-year-old has one goal and five assists in five playoff games.
The Predators acquired Kostitsyn from the Montreal Canadiens prior to the trade deadline in hopes of bolstering their attack for the post-season.
The 27-year-old had four goals and eight assists in 19 games with the Predators, after collecting 24 points (12-12) with the Canadiens.
Kostitsyn has three goals and an assist so far in this year's playoffs.
Nashville defeated the Detroit Red Wings in fives games in the first round of the playoffs.