Goligoski called up for Game 5

Updated: May 9, 2009, 7:12 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

The Pittsburgh Penguins have called up defenseman Alex Goligoski as "insurance" after Sergei Gonchar was injured Friday night against the Washington Capitals.

Gonchar was leveled by Capitals star Alex Ovechkin on a knee-on-knee hit in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. Gonchar will not play Saturday in Game 5.

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said Gonchar's injury was not as severe as initially thought, but he declined to say whether the veteran defenseman will play again in the postseason.

"We evaluated him and continue to evaluate him," Bylsma said. "It's more or less how he's going to respond. The swelling has not been significant but it's going to be day-to-day, game-time for Sergei. He's not doing as bad as we thought and it will be game-time as far as our decisions with our lineup."


Gonchar was with the team Saturday, and was seen wearing a large black support on his right knee, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Goligoski started the season with the Penguins when Gonchar was sidelined, but was assigned to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the AHL when Gonchar returned in February. Goligoski had six goals and 14 assists in 44 games with the Penguins.

As Gonchar was skating out from behind the Pittsburgh net during a Washington power play in the first period, Ovechkin appeared to stick out his right knee a moment before the two collided. Gonchar spent about a minute unsuccessfully trying to get up before play was stopped in the Capitals' end.

As Gonchar was assisted off the ice, unable to put any weight on his right leg, Ovechkin was given a minor minute penalty for kneeing.

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"It's kind of the same thing he [Ovechkin] did with me last game," Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik said. "I mean, you can run guys, guys are fair game, but the guy takes strides every time and leaves his feet a lot of times, too. To us, we got the feeling he's really trying to hurt guys at times."

About 10 minutes before he was injured, Gonchar scored the first of the three consecutive goals that gave Pittsburgh a 3-1 lead. The Penguins went on to win 5-3.

"I just tried to move him and I hit him, he turned to move to his left and, I don't know, I don't have time to realize what's going on and he hit my knee," Ovechkin said. "I think it was an accident. I'm not the kind of player who wants to injure guys, especially ones I know like Gonch."

Ovechkin, the NHL's leading scorer and MVP during the 2007-08 season, could be seen after the game explaining his side of the play to Penguins star Evgeni Malkin's father. Malkin, Ovechkin and Gonchar played on Russia's 2006 Olympic team.

Gonchar, who played for Washington from 1994 to 2004 and is annually one of the leading scorers among NHL defensemen, missed three-quarters of the regular season with a shoulder injury that occurred during the preseason.

The Penguins didn't begin their late-season surge that carried them into the playoffs until Gonchar returned.

"We missed Gonch for a long time, we were forced to play guys in a couple of different positions, and now we've got to use that experience and find a way to still be productive without him," Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. "There's no choice right now."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.