No one figured it would be easy for the Nashville Predators to replace Patric Hornqvist’s offense.
Following their first game without their leading goal scorer in two of the last three seasons, though, it also was no clearer how they were going to do so.
Nashville fell 4-0 to the Phoenix Coyotes on Monday at Glendale, Ariz., its third straight loss overall and the second time in three games it was held scoreless. That already was one fewer than the number of shutouts against all of last season.
The Predators (1-2-3) managed just three shots in the first period and finished with 22 in their first meeting this season with the team that eliminated them from the playoffs last May.
The Coyotes (2-4-0), who started the day with the Western Conference’s worst record and most goals allowed (20), got all the offense they needed when Antoine Vermette scored three minutes into the contest. They added one more in the second period and two in the third, the last from defenseman Keith Yandle on the power play with 4:58 remaining.
Yandle finished with three points (one goal, two assists) and a plus-2 rating. Right wing Nick Johnson (one goal, one assist) and defenseman Derek Morris (two assists) added two points apiece.
Hornqvist, who led the Predators with 30 goals in 2009-10 and 27 in 2011-12, was diagnosed with a sprained left knee, an injury he sustained during the third period of Saturday’s shootout loss at Anaheim.
The initial diagnosis earlier Monday was that he would be out three-four weeks. The 26-year-old missed a total of just 11 games during the previous three seasons, when he scored 78 goals in all, 14 on the power play.
Through the first five games of this season Hornqvist and Martin Erat were tied for the team scoring lead at four points. Hornqvist had one goal and three assists. Erat had two goals and two assists.
Nashville is now 1-2-1 on the seven-game road trip that continues Thursday at Los Angeles, the reigning Stanley Cup champion.