This April 20, 2012 photo shows Nashville Predators right wing Alexander Radulov, of Russia, playing against the Detroit Red Wings in Game 5 of a first-round NHL hockey playoff series in Nashville, Tenn. The Predators have suspended forwards Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn for Game 3 on Wednesday night against the Phoenix Coyotes for violating team rules. The Predators announced the suspensions Tuesday morning, May 1, 2012, and did not specify which rules the forwards broke. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Predators coach Barry Trotz is sitting forwards Alexander Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn for Game 4 against Phoenix on Friday night because he doesn't want to change a winning formula.
The Predators suspended Radulov and Kostitsyn for Wednesday night's 2-0 victory, which pulled Nashville within 2-1 in the Western Conference semifinal. Whether they returned to the lineup was left to Trotz, and the coach announced his decision Friday after a morning skate.
"The decision for me was pretty simple," Trotz said. "The group that went in there was very committed and got the job done plain and simple. Alex and Andrei are good players. They're top players. At the same time, I felt that the group responded really well, and I expect the group to respond again."
Trotz said Radulov and Kostitsyn clearly want to play and will be ready. Injuries or other circumstances Friday night could result in a lineup change.
"They're really good about being good pros, which got them in trouble in the first place. They understand," Trotz said. "They're ready to do whatever it takes to get back in. If it means having to sit this game or the next game or whatever, as long as we're winning we're OK. They're fine. We have to win. If someone doesn't play well or they're injured, they're ready to go."
Radulov is Nashville's top scorer in the post-season with six points despite missing the last game. Kostitsyn has three goals, tied for the team lead.
"As long as we're winning, it's fine," Radulov said. "It's long playoffs."
Phoenix coach Dave Tippett also said he doesn't plan a lineup change. Lauri Korpikoski has missed two games with an undisclosed injury. Tippett said Korpikoski wants to play but is not able to now.