Coyotes-Predators Preview


The Nashville Predators may have found a replacement for Pekka Rinne.

Now, they may need to find one for one of their top scorers.

The Predators may need to withstand the potential absence of Patric Hornqvist as they seek a fourth win in five games Monday night against the Phoenix Coyotes.

Nashville (11-10-2) is 6-6-1 since Rinne was lost indefinitely to a hip infection, and goaltenders Marek Mazanec and Carter Hutton have combined for a 3.19 goals-against average in his place.

Mazanec, though, has emerged as the top option while starting six straight games, splitting them behind a 2.32 GAA and one shutout.

He could have used some help Saturday, when he made 32 saves in a 2-0 loss to the New York Rangers that snapped the Predators' three-game winning streak.

Nashville was outshot 34-17, and was also dealt a blow when Hornqvist exited in the first period with an upper-body injury. The right wing is questionable for Monday, potentially leaving the Predators without a key offensive contributor.

Hornqvist - a former 30-goal scorer - is tied with Craig Smith and Shea Weber with a team-high six goals, while his 13 points are third. His five power-play points also rank among the team leaders.

The Predators may particularly miss Hornqvist against the Coyotes since he has 12 points in 14 career meetings. He has at least one in each of the past five home matchups.

If Hornqvist is out, Nashville could use some consistent production from Weber. The defenseman has been held without a point for two games after getting three in the previous two.

He hit the post once Saturday, while another shot was deflected in front by Matt Cullen before caroming off the post.

"I've got to find a way to get those in and keep getting pucks to the front of the net," Weber said. "We had good traffic on a couple of them, but we weren't able to sink them."

That hasn't been a problem against the Coyotes (14-5-4), as Weber has four goals and one assist over the past six home meetings. However, the Predators have lost four of those games, including a 7-4 defeat March 28.

Phoenix scored the first five goals of that game before ending the opening period with six.

Radim Vrbata had two goals and one assist in that period, and enters this meeting with five points - all assists - over the past four games.

The right wing assisted on Shane Doan's goal Saturday, but the Coyotes fell 4-2 to Anaheim and are in danger of losing three in a row for the first time this season.

Doan is doing his part, collecting seven goals and four assists during an eight-game point streak. A point Monday would give the Phoenix captain his longest since a career-high 13-game run Dec. 31-Jan. 29, 2008.

Doan has 14 points over his last 16 meetings with the Predators, five in five visits to Nashville.