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Philadelphia Flyers' Chris Pronger warms up before Game 6 of a first-round NHL Stanley Cup playoffs hockey series between the Flyers and the Buffalo Sabres in Buffalo, N.Y., Sunday, April 24, 2011.

David Duprey

With the Philadelphia Flyers facing elimination in Game 6 on Sunday afternoon, defenceman Chris Pronger made a long-awaited return to the lineup.

Pronger hasn't played since March 8 against the Edmonton Oilers, missing the last 16 regular season games and the first five in the Flyers' first-round series with the Buffalo Sabres due to an injury to his right hand.

Ville Leino scored 4:33 into overtime to lift the Philadelphia to a 5-4 victory on Sunday forcing Game 7.

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Pronger was originally injured on Feb. 24 when he took a puck off the hand, but he played through the injury for two weeks before having surgery in mid-March.

Even if he's not 100 per cent, his return should be a big boost to the Flyers given coach Peter Laviolette has been reluctant to play sixth defenceman Danny Syvret, who has averaged under eight minutes ice time a game.

Pronger, 36, is tied for second among NHL players in playoff games played since the lockout with 85, having been to the finals with three different teams in the past five seasons (Edmonton, Anaheim and Philadelphia).

Only Chicago Blackhawks defenceman Brian Campbell has played more (88).

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Hockey Reporter

James joined The Globe as an editor and reporter in the sports department in 2005 and now covers the NHL and the Toronto Maple Leafs. More

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