Stanley Cup-bound Keith grins after losing seven teeth

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Try as he might, Chicago defenseman Duncan Keith could not crack a smile after his Blackhawks team beat the San Jose Sharks on Sunday to reach the Stanley Cup final for the first time in 18 years.

While his team mates were flashing their cheesy grins for the cameras after completing a 4-0 clean sweep of the Western Conference finals, Keith was looking for the seven teeth he lost after being struck in the mouth by a flying puck.

"It's just missing teeth," he told the NHL's official website. "It's a long way from the heart.

"I took one breath and it felt like my whole mouth was missing so I knew there were some teeth gone."

Keith said he saw two of his teeth fall out of his mouth. Another dropped into his throat and he coughed it back up but he had no idea where the other four ended up.

"A bunch of them disintegrated," he explained.

Keith was immediately rushed off the ice and into the team's medical center where he was given a series of painkilling needles. But as soon as he had lost all feeling in his gums, he was back in the game to help his team mates to a 4-2 win.

"It's not as bad as you think it is," he said.

"I'd probably be hurting a lot more if we lost.

"Two of them were fake already, so hopefully I can get some nice teeth now."

(Reporting by Julian Linden in New York; Editing by Patrick Johnston)