Gonchar practices, optimistic about playing Monday

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Penguins defenseman Sergei Gonchar says he is optimistic about being able to play in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference final against Carolina Monday night at Mellon Arena.

Gonchar, who had been off skates for the previous three days, participated in the team's practice at Southpointe today, then expressed confidence that he'll be in uniform against the Hurricanes..

"It looks promising," he said. "I don't want to say anything (conclusive) right now, but there's a good chance."

Gonchar missed Games 5 and 6 of the Penguins' second-round series against Washington after a knee-on-knee hit from Capitals left winger Alex Ovechkin during Game 4. He returned for the Penguins' 6-2 victory in Game 7, but played little more than 15 minutes, barely half his usual workload.

Also, the Penguins recalled forwards Dustin Jeffrey, Chris Minard and Jeff Taffe, defenseman Ben Lovejoy and goaltender John Curry from their farm team in Wilkes-Barre, which has finished its season.

Dave Molinari can be reached at dmolinari@post-gazette.com .


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