The Phoenix Coyotes’ stunning success last season included their first appearance in the Western Conference finals, and that came at the expense of the Nashville Predators.
Neither team has played at that level since returning from the lockout, and now the Predators are without Patric Hornqvist.
In their first meeting since facing off in the playoffs, the Coyotes and Predators are both looking for just their second win in six games this season Monday night.
Phoenix (1-4-0) won a division title for the first time in franchise history last season, ousting Chicago and then Nashville before falling to eventual Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles in the conference finals.
The Coyotes eliminated the Predators in five games, winning three times at home.
A rematch in this year’s postseason seems unlikely at the moment. The Coyotes allowed at least four goals for the fourth time in five games Saturday, losing 4-2 to the visiting Kings.
The Predators (1-1-3) are doing a little better, although they lost their third shootout Saturday in a 3-2 defeat at Anaheim. They also may have suffered a major blow when Hornqvist exited in the third period with a lower-body injury.
Hornqvist, tied for the team lead with four points after pacing the Predators with 27 goals last season, is out indefinitely.
“He’s one of those great guys that brings a lot of energy, and he’s about as hard as they come,” coach Barry Trotz said. “It’s a little frustrating because we haven’t won a shootout, but we’re getting points in every game, and you have to collect points, especially on the road.”
Nashville hasn’t had a problem doing that at Phoenix during the regular season with three straight victories, most recently a 5-4 shootout win March 12. But they came up empty in Arizona in the playoffs, with Pekka Rinne yielding 11 goals in the three losses.
Rinne, 0-1-3 with a 2.36 goals-against average this season, could get another chance at his first win Monday after making 20 saves and giving up the lone shootout goal against the Ducks.
Although he skated Sunday, counterpart Mike Smith seems like he may miss a third straight game with a lower-body injury he suffered early in Wednesday’s 5-1 win over Columbus. He was one of Phoenix’s stars in the playoffs, posting a 1.73 GAA and a shutout in the series with Nashville.
Phoenix has lost both games without Smith, as Jason LaBarbera has given up eight goals on 65 shots. The backup has won three of his last four meetings with the Predators behind a 1.76 GAA.
The Coyotes have allowed 20 goals through five games after yielding 2.37 per contest last season.
“When there is a mistake you’ve got to clean up for each other,” coach Dave Tippett said. “Right now, there’s not much cleaning up going on.”
Shane Doan, who scored his second goal of the season Saturday, will try to build on his recent success against the Predators. Including the playoffs, he has 15 points in his past 17 meetings with Nashville, getting nine in as many games at home.
Steve Sullivan leads the Coyotes with four goals, and he’s facing the Predators for just the second time since spending five-plus seasons with them. He had an assist for Pittsburgh in a home victory March 22.