ATLANTA - Ian Laperriere's stitched lip was so swollen yesterday he could barely talk, and when he did, it was difficult to understand him.
But that didn't stop the Flyers right winger from participating in the optional morning skate - or playing in last night's game in Atlanta.
Despite the pain of losing seven teeth - up from the original estimate of four - and having 50 to 100 stitches administered, the happy-go-lucky player known as "Lappy" refused to miss a game.
Laperriere blocked Jason Pominville's slapshot with his mouth late in Friday's first period, was stitched together, and returned for the third period of the 4-2 loss to Buffalo.
Playing on the penalty kill, Laperriere was about 25 feet from Pominville when the Sabres winger uncorked a shot from the point.
"It's my fault," Laperriere said before last night's game. "The worst thing about the incident is that I'm mad at myself because I shouldn't go down like that. I thought he was closer, and if he was closer, it's fine. I take pride in blocking shots, but that was stupid."
If he were closer to Pominville, Laperriere said, the shot wouldn't have had time to rise and hit him in the mouth.
"I never thought he was going to one-time it, because the puck was bobbling - and he still one-timed it," he said. "My timing was off."
Flyers coach John Stevens was worried that Laperriere - who lost five real teeth and two false ones - would not be able to eat solid foods and might miss last night's game. Laperriere, however, was able to eat salmon and potatoes Friday.
"He still can't chew on steak yet," Stevens said with a smile. "But he was able to eat some [soft] foods. I was concerned he wouldn't be able to eat and his energy level would be a problem."
Laperriere, who is taking medication to avoid infections, wore a newly designed shield and protective cage in last night's game.
He said his wife is used to his injuries.
"I've been with her 20 years, so she's seen every single scar I've gotten," he said, adding that his 7-year-old son was "kind of shocked" when he saw a video of his father's scarred face.
Forward Danny Briere, who missed the two previous games because of an NHL suspension, was sidelined last night by the flu.
Center Jon Kalinski, called up from the AHL's Phantoms, replaced Jared Ross, who suffered a neck injury when he was sent into the boards on an illegal hit by Buffalo's Patrick Kaleta on Friday. Kaleta was suspended for two games yesterday by the NHL and will forfeit $5,414.
"I think he may be the most dangerous player in the league," Stevens said. "I know he plays hard and is a good player, but he's a reckless player."
Ross did not suffer a concussion, and the injury is not believed to be serious.