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Pens' Laraque ready to play

Georges Laraque declared himself "100 percent" after the Penguins' practice Thursday. He had missed two games because of back spasms. Since the Penguins won both games, knocking off the Eastern Conference's two best teams, and coach Michel Therrien generally doesn't like to change his lineup after a win, Laraque said he didn't know if he'd play tonight against the Montreal Canadiens.

"I'd be OK to wait," Laraque said. "I'm a team guy. Whatever it takes to win."

• Most of the Penguins players were told to stay off the ice yesterday after back-to-back wins over the Buffalo Sabres and New Jersey Devils. Those who participated were Laraque, Mark Eaton, Joel Kwiatkowski, Chris Thorburn, Ronald Petrovicky, Nils Ekman and goaltenders Jocelyn Thibault and Marc-Andre Fleury.

• Eaton skated for the second time after spraining his knee March 1. There is no timetable for his return.

"It felt better (yesterday) than it did (Wednesday), so hopefully that trend continues and I can just get my strength back and hopefully in the next couple of days get a session out there that's pain-free," Eaton said. "It's two weeks (yesterday) and when it happened they said 2-4 weeks, so it's right on schedule."

• Quotable: "We want to make sure we're well-prepared for the playoffs. It's important for us to play solid hockey. I'm very optimistic about the way we are capable to play against the No. 1 team in our conference and the second team in our conference, and the way we played. Sometimes you can pick up wins and not be that satisfied with the way you're playing. But I really liked the way we played those two games." - Coach Michel Therrien, on the team's last two wins.


Digits

59 - Points for defenseman Sergei Gonchar in 70 games this season.

67 - Gonchar's career high in points, set in 2002-03.

- By Karen Price

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