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Coyotes' Klesla has hearing; Preds expect 2 back

Associated Press Modified: May 5, 2012 at 9:01 pm •  Published: May 5, 2012
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GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — The Phoenix Coyotes hope they won't be down a player, while the Nashville Predators probably will have two returning for Game 5 of their Western Conference semifinal series.

The NHL has scheduled a hearing with Phoenix defenseman Rostislav Klesla on Sunday afternoon regarding his hit on Nashville forward Matt Halischuk in the Coyotes' 1-0 victory on Friday night.

Replays showed that Klesla appeared to grab the back of Halischuk's jersey before slamming him into the boards. Nashville coach Barry Trotz called it "a very dangerous hit."

Meanwhile, Trotz said Saturday that "there's a high probability" forwards Alexander Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn will be back in the lineup after missing the past two games.

They were suspended for Game 3 for violating team rules, then were scratched from Game 4 because Trotz didn't want to mess with a lineup that played so well in Nashville's 2-0 Game 3 victory.

"I talked to both of them this morning. We have communicated," Trotz said. "They are part of our family, and they want to be in a position to get on the ice and help. They are back in the right mindset and they can make a difference here."

Trotz left himself open to second-guessing after his offense, without possibly its two best players, fizzled in the home loss to the Coyotes on Friday night. Phoenix leads the best-of-seven series 3-1 and, with a victory on Monday, can advance to the Western Conference finals for the first time in the history of the long-downtrodden franchise.

Klesla was notified Saturday that the NHL had scheduled a hearing, to be conducted via telephone, regarding the hit.

The Coyotes took Saturday off and weren't available to comment. Trotz said he was blocked from the play and couldn't see it live but watched replays.

"Mind you I played defense, not well, but I have played defense before," the Nashville coach said, "and Klesla grabs Halischuk's shirt and pulls him back — and I know that is the whiplash effect — and then you push him right between the numbers when he is facing the boards, and it was really dangerous in my eyes. How the referees or league will view it — I cannot really speak on that — but in my eyes, drilling him the way he did, we were fortunate Halischuk spun the way he did at the last minute."

Phoenix already is without suspended Raffi Torres, gone for 25 games after a brutal hit in the first-round series against Chicago.

Personnel issues aside, the Coyotes are in command of the series thanks to a superb defensive effort Friday, led by goalie Mike Smith, who had 25 saves in his second shutout of the playoffs.

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