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Thursday, May 3, 2012
Predators' Barry Trotz mulls decision

Associated Press

Nashville Predators coach Barry Trotz has made no decision on whether to bring back forwards Alexander Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn from one-game suspensions against the Phoenix Coyotes.

Trotz said Thursday he had not dissected Nashville's 2-0 win over Phoenix Wednesday night, which pulled the Predators within 2-1 in their Western Conference semifinal. Game 4 is Friday night.

The Nashville coach credited Radulov and Kostitsyn with cheering their teammates despite being suspended for an apparent curfew violation before Game 2 in Phoenix. But he says he also expects them to support any decision he makes. Predators general manager David Poile has said the decision is up to Trotz.

"I know it is going to be very tough if I do anything," Trotz said Thursday after practice. "I thought everyone was pretty committed. So I can't give a definite decision right now because I don't have that. The guys that were in got the job done, and they played very hard. It would be very difficult for me to give you an exact lineup for tomorrow."

With Radulov and Kostitsyn out, Matt Halischuk and Jordin Tootoo played.

Tootoo had played only once this postseason because Trotz was unhappy with his play late in the season. Tootoo's hits helped set the tone for his teammates.

"He had good focus last night," Trotz said. "He had good energy. He had good discipline and he was a factor in the game, in terms of being hard to play against. That is our identity. We have to be hard to play against."

The Predators let that slip in Phoenix, which led to them losing the first two games. They became what Trotz called a "turnover machine," allowing Phoenix to outplay them at their own game of grit and defense. On Wednesday night, the Predators got back to that style.

With his teammates playing better in front of him, Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne returned to his usual stingy form after giving up nine goals in the first two games. The 6-foot-5 Finn made 32 saves in notching his first playoff shutout, and the franchise's first since Tomas Vokoun shut out Detroit in Game 4 in 2004. Rinne was at his best killing 41 seconds of a 5-on-3 late in the game.

"We played desperate hockey and showed a lot of character when we faced maybe some adversity," Rinne said. "That was nice to see."

Radulov said he all he can do is work hard in practice. But he said it was nice to watch his teammates and is glad the team got back into the series. He will not ask Trotz to put him back in the lineup, and Trotz said he has no problem playing Radulov or Kostitsyn, insisting it's not a package decision.

"I don't think it's right to go and ask," Radulov said after practice. "Guys played well yesterday. I want to play, but it's not like I go and ask for it. Whatever happens tomorrow, happens. We just have to make sure we're ready for the game."