PITTSBURGH -- Bill Guerin
isn't used to being the playmaking presence on a line. But that's what the veteran forward had been in the last few games of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Guerin had assists in the first two games of the Pittsburgh Penguins
' Eastern Conference Semifinal series against the Washington Capitals
. With some help from linemate Sidney Crosby
, Guerin finally turned on the red light in Game 4 Friday night.
Guerin held a puck in at the Washington blue line, sent Crosby in alone and drove to the net himself. Crosby was stopped twice by Simeon Varlamov, but when the rookie goaltender couldn't corral the loose puck, Guerin pounced and scored his third goal of the postseason.
"I was happy for him," Crosby said of Guerin. "He's a goal-scorer. He makes a lot of things happen in the high slot, but he crashed the net there for that goal."
Those are the kind of goals the Penguins were hoping Guerin would score when they acquired him from the New York Islanders
at the trade deadline and put him at right wing on a line with Crosby and Chris Kunitz
The chemistry has been unmistakable, and was there again in Game 4.
"He's a guy who's strong, wins a lot of battles, he's responsible out there," Crosby said of Guerin, who surpassed the 400-goal mark this season and was the Islanders' captain before being traded. "He brings a lot of experience. He brings a lot of different things, but a far as on the ice goes, he's a strong guy, going to win his battles, keeps it pretty simple. He's got a great shot, especially in the slot."
As beneficial as the relationship has been for Crosby, it's been just as good for Guerin, who is equal parts fan and teammate.
"There are a lot of things that impress me about him," Guerin said. "His whole approach to the game -- the mental aspect is one of his biggest assets. Young players tend to struggle with consistency, but he's consistently ready for every single game that I've been involved with. Then the physical side of it -- his skating is as good or better than anyone I've ever seen."
It was Crosby's turn to crash the net early in the third. Miroslav Satan
zipped a tape-to-tape pass to Crosby on a 2-on-1 that Crosby tapped into the net at 4:16 for his League-high ninth playoff goal, which turned out to be the game-winner.
"Miro just put it right on my stick," Crosby said. "I didn't have to do much. Just went to the net, put my stick on the ice and just tried to find the puck. He put it right on my tape -- great pass."
There were mostly great feelings coming out of the locker room after the 5-3 victory evened the series heading into Saturday's game, the second half of a home-and-home this weekend.
"Our power play was a little bit better," Crosby said. "I think that our consistency wasn't there for the most part the first two games, and we did make big mistakes. If we did make a mistake in the last couple, we found a way to get ourselves out of it, whether it was to get more of a lead or a big save or a big play, whatever the case is."
While Crosby's goal was the winner, he credited Maxime Talbot
, who scored at 14:46 of third after Milan Jurcina
's shorthanded goal had pulled the Caps within one, for giving his team the final boost it needed.
"Max scores that big goal to go up two, the game was pretty intense at that point," Crosby said. "It was back and forth. We had some good chances to go up by two, couldn't get one, and then he scored that one it gave us a big jump."
Contact Adam Kimelman at firstname.lastname@example.org.