PITTSBURGH (AP) — Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Sergei Gonchar played the final two rounds of the Stanley Cup playoffs with a partially torn right medial collateral ligament, a major injury that can sideline an athlete for months.
Gonchar, playing through the injury because he wanted to win the Stanley Cup for the first time in an NHL career that began during the 1994-95 season, was injured during a knee-to-knee hit by Washington star Alex Ovechkin in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Gonchar missed two games, returned for Game 7 of that series and played in the conference finals against Carolina and the Stanley Cup finals against Detroit without missing another game for the Stanley Cup champion Penguins.
"Lots of guys were playing with bruises," Gonchar said Sunday of refusing to be sidelined.
Defenseman Kris Letang also had an undisclosed but significant injury during the playoffs, but Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said Sunday only that, "There were lots of guys that were dinged up and patched together."
Bylsma did not reveal any of the injuries.
Gonchar was initially told after getting hurt May 8 that he might be out a month to six weeks, only to return in a week.
A point man on the Penguins' power play, Gonchar wasn't as productive as usual following his second serious injury of the season, getting one goal and four assists in his final 12 games. The goal came during Pittsburgh's 4-2 victory in Game 3 against Detroit.
Gonchar missed the first two-thirds of the NHL season with a shoulder injury that occurred during the Penguins' first preseason game. Despite getting hurt again, he told teammates he couldn't sit out during the most important time of the season.
"I told the guys they were realizing how important it is now, in the playoffs, it's that time of the year when you have the chance to make your dream come true," Gonchar said. "That's why you're playing through everything, just to get it. It's not only me, everybody sacrificed somehow to get it."
Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said the jammed left knee that put him on the bench for all but one shift during the second half of Pittsburgh's 2-1 victory in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals Friday in Detroit isn't serious.
On Sunday, a doctor told Crosby that an MRI exam probably won't be needed.
"In a few weeks, it should be all right," said Crosby, who will take part in the Penguins' victory parade Monday in Pittsburgh.
by the associated press