The Phoenix Coyotes travel to Bridgestone Arena Wednesday night looking to go up 3-0 in their series with the Nashville Predators, who will be without forwards Alexander Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn.
The Predators announced the suspensions of two of their top forwards Tuesday morning. The team wouldn't get into specifics on why the duo were suspended, just stating that the players violated unspecific team rules. General manager
David Polie said the actions were unfortunate and selfish.
"I hope there is some remorse for what they did," Poile said. "Time will tell with their behavior and if they get the opportunity to get back into the lineup."
While the team is staying quiet on what team rules the forwards broke, there are reports that the two were seen around Scottsdale as late as 4 a.m.
The suspensions are unfortunate for the Predators, who already find themselves down 0-2 in a series for the first time since 2008. Kostitsyn has been one of the few players for the Preds who have been able to get the puck past Mike Smith, scoring two this series, and Radulov leads the team in postseason points with six.
Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett knows that despite Nashville missing the two forwards, the Coyotes will have to play their game if they want to win.
"What their lineup is, is inconsequential to us. We've got to concentrate on the things that we have to do to that we think would improve in our game. Game 2 was obviously a better game than Game 1 for us, but we feel like there's still upside in our game. There's some things, we were able to get to the net and score some goals but there's still some issues; I think we can defend better... So, we'll look at all the things, the adjustments we have to make going into Game 3 that hopefully continue to improve our game."
Coyote captain Shane Doan also knows that the Predators cannot be taken lightly.
"Not really. They had a great team before they had those guys, and obviously having those guys is big, but they have a good team, with our without them. So, we're going to have to be good."
Doan also conceded that despite being up 2-0 in the series, the hardest part is yet to come.
"We're happy that it's 2-0. We recognize that we did what we're supposed to, we won two games at home and now you've got to go on the road and do everything you can to win that next one. Everyone talks about how it's (Game 3) the most important game, and it's the next one."
The puck drops at 6 p.m. PST and the game will be broadcast nationally on CNBC. XTRA Sports 910 will carry the game on the radio locally in Phoenix.
The Coyotes are hosting viewing parties around the valley as well. If you feel like being surrounded by other Desert Dog crazies, head over to 18 Degrees Neighborhood Grill, located inside the Ice Den (9375 East Bell Road, Scottsdale, AZ 85260). Coyotes mascot Howler and the Paw Patrol will also be on hand to give away intermission prizes, including some autographed merchandise.