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Klesla returns after taking puck in mouth

By Jerry Brown - Correspondent

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Klesla returns after taking puck in mouth
Defenseman Rostislav Klesla -- already wearing a shield due to an eye injury -- took a puck to the mouth area just 33 seconds into Game 2 of the Phoenix Coyotes' Western Conference Semifinal series against the Nashville Predators at Arena on Sunday night.

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- After collecting six points in his first seven playoff games, Phoenix Coyotes defenseman Rostislav Klesla's face as been a familiar one in the postseason.

But it's also been taking a lot of abuse over the last week.

Rostislav Klesla
Rostislav Klesla
Defense - PHX
GOALS: 2 | ASST: 4 | PTS: 6
SOG: 16 | +/-: 1
Less than a week after the butt end of a stick hit him over the right eye in Chicago, Klesla took a puck in the chin during the first shift of Sunday's 5-3 win against the Nashville Predators. And, as he did against the Blackhawks, Klesla returned to the game in the second period wearing a full facemask to keep the team from finishing shorthanded.

The Coyotes lead the Western Conference Semifinal 2-0 and have a few days off before the series resumes in Nashville on Wednesday. Klesla can use the down time.

"Getting hit in the face with a puck – I've been in that position and it's no fun," Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. "Sometimes you get your bell rung or in Rusty's case, he got hit in the chin and there was some soreness in his jaw. But as soon as that faded away, he looked up and said, 'I'm good to go,' so away he went and he finished the game off."

The Coyotes are hoping Klesla will be good to go for Game 3. Fellow Czech blueliner Michal Rozsival, who took a face-first check into the boards against Chicago last Monday, sat out Sunday's game. Adrian Aucoin, who has been inconsistent so far in the playoffs, and David Schlemko were asked to play 20 and 15 minutes, respectively, and heavy minutes while Klesla was recuperating.

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