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Pens' Gonchar to make season debut tonight

NHL.com @NHL
Penguins defensman Sergei Gonchar is back. Gonchar will make his first appearance of the season on the Pittsburgh blue line in the Penguins' showdown with the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre Saturday night at 7 p.m.

Forward Ruslan Fedotenko, who has missed the past 15 games with a broken hand, will also be back in the lineup.

Gonchar hasn't played a competitive game since Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final June 4. It's been 146 days since he suffered cartilage and ligament damage in his left shoulder in a preseason game with the Tampa Bay Lightning Sept. 20. Gonchar had surgery Oct. 2 to repair the damage.

Gonchar was cleared for contact four months later, Feb. 2, and has participated in all aspects of practice since. Doctors gave the All-Star defenseman the green light to return Wednesday and he was removed from the injured reserve list.

Gonchar has been trying to get his timing and conditioning back to game form. He's been the first player on the ice at practice and the last to leave in an attempt to build his endurance. It isn't clear how much ice time Gonchar will be given in his first game but he will no doubt resume his role as the Penguins' power-play quarterback.

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