-- 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
"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 firstname.lastname@example.org