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Pittsburgh Penguins defenceman Sergei Gonchar practises on Sunday afternoon, his first time on the ice since Game 7 against Washington last Wednesday. ((Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press) )

Pittsburgh Penguins defenceman Sergei Gonchar made it through Monday morning's skate with no apparent problems, and is expected to be in the lineup for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Gonchar sat out Games 5 and 6 of the NHL conference semifinal series after a knee-on-knee hit from Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin.

The veteran defenceman returned for Pittsburgh’s 6-2 Game 7 win last Wednesday, but his playing time was reduced.

"He looked comfortable out there today," Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma said after the Monday morning skate.

On Sunday, Gonchar commented his playing status for Monday's game "looks promising."

Bylsma says it will be a game-time decision as to whether the Penguins go with seven defencemen and 11 forwards, as they did for the last three games of the Washington series, or go back to the conventional 6-12 setup.

Bylsma says the decision will likely depend on whether Gonchar can handle his usual ice time. 

Gonchar missed three-quarters of the regular season due to a shoulder injury.

The Penguins recalled forwards Dustin Jeffrey, Chris Minard and Jeff Taffe, defenceman Ben Lovejoy, and goalie John Curry from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the AHL on Sunday.

With files from The Canadian Press