PITTSBURGH – The Pittsburgh Penguins are ready to welcome Bill Guerin back into their lineup for Game 5 Saturday night (7 p.m. ET, VERSUS, CBC, RDS). Guerin took part in the morning skate Saturday at Mellon Arena –- working with the first line and playing on the first power-play unit –- before declaring himself ready to go in the pivotal fifth game of this best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Montreal Canadiens.
The series is tied at two games apiece.
"Everything is good," said Guerin, who provided no detail on his Game 4 absence. "I feel great. It was something that sidelined me for a while. But, I'm 100 percent and I feel as good as I can."
Guerin played, and played effectively, in the first two games of the series before he was a surprise scratch for Tuesday's Game 3. He also missed Game 4, a 3-2 loss at the Bell Centre. But, now the veteran may just be the crashing forward that can wake up a Pittsburgh offense that has gone stagnant, managing just one even-strength goal during the two games in Montreal.
"I want to drive the net, get in front and, just like everybody else, play well in my own end," Guerin said. "We're playing a solid team game right now and there is no reason for us to change anything. I'm just going to try to pick up where I left off."
Guerin has 3 goals and 8 points in 8 games this postseason. But, the Penguins say his presence on the ice and in the room is as important as his production.
"He has a way to calm some players down and keep our team focused, as well as his play," forward Jordan Staal said. "He's a great shooter and does a lot of the little things right."
Mike Rupp also says that Guerin's willingness to go to the front of the net, will make Pittsburgh a different team in Game 5.
"He's an interior guy, an interior threat," said Rupp, who will be a game-time decision after missing Game 4. "I think that is something we all need to do a better job with, being a threat in those tough areas. It will be a great lift having him in the lineup and will be even more of a lift to have Billy tuck one in from one of those in-tight spots."
Guerin's presence should also help Sidney Crosby, who has not scored in five games and has just 3 assists, all on the power play. Guerin's ability to occupy defenders down low, opens up ice for Crosby.
"He's got a lot of experience and I have played with him for a long time, too," Guerin said about his superstar linemate. "We've played together for a couple of years now. Again, Staalsy's back, so we have that flow that we are used to having. So, it's good to have everyone back."