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by Russell Brooks / Arizona Coyotes
Coyotes defenseman Kurt Sauer, who made his return to game action Monday night after missing 14 games because of a foot injury, on Tuesday said he felt a little sore after playing 16:54 in his return.

“It's to be expected,” said Sauer, who has four assists in 44 games. “I wasn’t as sharp as I could be and that puts you behind the eight ball. Overall, it’s behind me. I have one game under my belt so I am hopefully going to feel good in the second game.”

Sauer again was paired with shutdown partner Zbynek Michalek.

“Conditioning isn’t so much as a factor as positioning and how sharp you are mentally,” Sauer said. “How much trouble you stay out of is a big thing and I got myself into a couple situations where I couldn’t get myself out of.”

Coyotes Head Coach Wayne Gretzky was impressed with Sauer knowing he wasn’t at 100 percent.

“He did everything we asked of him and played on one foot,” Gretzky said. “...I thought he played his heart out.”

For Sauer, staying off the ice for four weeks was strange because he doesn’t spend that much time away in the offseason.

“It’s almost like going in right from summer again,” said Sauer, who treated the recovery like a mini-training camp. “You just feel clumsy out there. In a way I was trying to catch up to that speed again. Since I went out 14 games ago, the game has picked up. Everyone is playing that much harder, that much sharper. Everyone is in a race. I had to try and step up my game to that level of play.”


The coaching staff has yet to decide who will play goal - Ilya Bryzgalov or Mikael Tellqvist - when the Coyotes take on the Atlanta Thrashers on Thursday night at Arena.

“We’ll look at practice tomorrow and see how it goes,” Goaltending Coach Grant Fuhr said after Tuesday's practice. “I thought Telly was great yesterday. I thought he stepped it up and played well. I am hoping we can get both our goalies hot and that they both chip in. I think we are going to need both of them before the year is out.”

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