Preds need to smarten up, stay out of the penalty box

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PITTSBURGH — Peter Laviolette wants his Predators to play with a lot more discipline when the Stanley Cup Final shifts back to Nashville for Game 3 on Saturday.

The Preds spent much of Game 2 shorthanded. And though the Pittsburgh Penguins failed to score on any of their seven power plays, all that time Nashville spent killing penalties would’ve been better spent trying to beat Matt Murray.

“We have to be more responsible with our actions,” said Laviolette. “We cannot go the penalty box. We killed them, but it just drains the bench, it takes the flow out of the bench. Our five-on-five game was really good and all of a sudden we’re losing sync because we keep going to the penalty box. Even though they didn’t score, it definitely factored into the way the game played out.”

In all, the Preds spent 11:26 down a man in the 4-1 loss. Captain Mike Fisher took a needless interference penalty in the first period, while his team was on a 5-on-3 power play no less. Cody McLeod carelessly got his stick up in the second period, then took another minor at the end of the game. And remember, McLeod’s only been playing because Colin Wilson can’t.

Meanwhile, Mattias Ekholm was lucky he didn’t get called for anything, because he easily could’ve been. On one occasion, he punched Jake Guentzel in the side of the head after the whistle had blown. On another, he slashed Matt Cullen in the back of the legs, after Cullen had leveled him with a clean hit.

That’s not the kind of hockey that got the Predators to their first Cup final. And if they don’t smarten up, it’s going to be a short series against the Penguins.

Related: ‘You just have to bury these two games and move ahead,’ says Pekka Rinne