Phoenix Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said he expected forward Martin Hanzal back in the lineup Monday against the Nashville Predators.
The team's leading scorer with 19 points, Hanzal left the Coyotes' 4-2 home loss Saturday to the Anaheim Ducks in the first period with a lower-body injury.
Hanzal saw only 2:09 in ice time against Anaheim but participated in the Coyotes' morning skate Monday.
"He'll go for warm-ups tonight and it looks like he'll be a player," Tippett said.
The return of Hanzal will force Tippett to make some alterations to his forward combinations against the Predators. With Hanzal out against Nashville, the line of Shane Doan, Mike Ribeiro and Radim Vrbata found chemistry, combining for two goals, four points and 14 shots against the Ducks.
Despite how well those three played together, Tippett indicated he would reunite Hanzal in his customary spot alongside Vrbata and Tim Kennedy.
"I still like Vrbata with Hanzal," Tippett said. "Just to give us a little more balance there."
After struggling through a stretch in which he collected two assists in eight games, Ribeiro has found chemistry of late with Doan, scoring two goals and six points in his past five games. He has no qualms with losing Vrbata on his line, so long as he sticks with Doan, who is tied for the team points lead with Hanzal.
"I think it was great to play together, but Marty and [Hanzal], you can't really separate that. Me and Shane are feeling more comfortable together," Ribeiro said. "At least the last five or six games, I'm with Shane and [David] Moss. I think the first 15 games were a lot of a mix and it worked anyway. It's really how you play. If everyone plays the same, there's no problem there."
The Predators are contending with several injuries of their own, including forwards Patric Hornqvist and Filip Forsberg, both of whom will miss the home game Monday with upper-body injuries. Franchise goaltender Pekka Rinne remains out with a hip infection, although he did attend Nashville's practice on Monday as a spectator.
In his absence, rookie goaltender Marek Mazanec has filled in admirably of late, winning three of his past four starts and allowing six goals in that span with a .953 save percentage. Predators coach Barry Trotz expressed on Monday that he is happy with the play of the 22-year-old Czech, but felt his statistics were more a result of Nashville's defensive play.
"Maz is playing OK. I think in front of him we're playing a lot better. Because of that we're in games," Trotz said. "I think the more he plays in the League, he gets more comfortable. He still has to work on his game every day. But as he grows as a goaltender, he looks more comfortable, which is a good thing for us."
Here are the projected lineups for the Coyotes and Predators on Monday night:
Shane Doan - Mike Ribeiro - David Moss
Tim Kennedy - Martin Hanzal - Radim Vrbata
Mikkel Boedker - Antoine Vermette - Rob Klinkhammer
Paul Bissonnette - Jeff Halpern - Kyle Chipchura
Keith Yandle - Derek Morris
Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Michael Stone
David Rundblad - Rostislav Klesla
Scratched: Jordan Szwarz
Injured: Lauri Korpikoski (upper body), David Schlemko (lower body), Zbynek Michalek (lower body)
Craig Smith - Matt Cullen - Nick Spaling
Colin Wilson - Mike Fisher - Eric Nystrom
Viktor Stalberg - David Legwand - Gabriel Bourque
Rich Clune - Paul Gaustad - Matt Hendricks
Shea Weber - Roman Josi
Seth Jones - Kevin Klein
Ryan Ellis - Victor Bartley
Scratched: Mattias Ekholm
Injured: Filip Forsberg (upper body), Patric Hornqvist (upper body), Pekka Rinne (hip)