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Gonchar in Penguins' lineup for Game 7

Wednesday, 05.13.2009 / 7:05 PM / Conference Semifinals: Washington vs. Pittsburgh

By Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

WASHINGTON -- The Pittsburgh Penguins had a little extra ammunition when they took the ice against the Washington Capitals in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal series: Defenseman Sergei Gonchar, who missed the last two games with a right knee injury suffered in Game 4, was back in the lineup.

Gonchar went through a full practice Wednesday morning with the team, his second straight day on the ice. He missed Games 5 and 6 after a knee-on-knee collision with Alex Ovechkin last Friday.

"He's been steadily improving and he'll go out for warmups," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said following Wednesday morning's practice. "He'll be a game-time decision.

"We saw him on the ice (Tuesday) and expected him to be on the ice this morning barring any setbacks, and what you saw is exactly what we expected and we'll see moving forward."

Bylsma said he would make the determination after pre-game warmups, and apparently Gonchar felt good enough to play.

The Penguins had played seven defensemen the last two games in his absence -- Philippe Boucher and Alex Goligoski. The Pens dressed seven blueliners again in Game 7, with Boucher staying in the lineup and Goligoski sitting out.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com
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We want to make sure that whoever makes our team really makes our team by earning it and not putting them in situations where they get preference because of their status as a first-round pick or whatever it might be. That's not going to happen. Everybody has to earn their way on our team.

— Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen on the team's prospects at development camp