That changed Friday night when he scored a pair, including the game-winner late in the first overtime, as the Penguins beat Philadelphia 3-2 to take a 2-0 lead on the Flyers heading into Sunday's Game 3 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series.
The goal was Guerin's first in 10 playoff games. And it was one day shy of nine years -- April 18, 2000 -- that Guerin had his last multigoal postseason game.
"It's been a couple years since I've been in the playoffs," said Guerin, who was acquired by the Penguins from the last-place New York Islanders at the trade deadline. "To be a part of this feels really good. To be able to contribute feels even better."
He's contributed on and off the ice since arriving in Pittsburgh.
On the ice, he had 5 goals and 12 points in 17 regular-season games while filling a role on the top line with Sidney Crosby
and Chris Kunitz
On Friday night he was even better. With the Penguins trailing late in the second period, he knocked the puck away from the Flyers' Mike Knuble
along the wall in the Pens' end and followed the play up the ice. As Evgeni Malkin
carried the puck up the right side, Guerin came up the left wing, found an open spot and fired a wrister that beat Flyers goalie Martin Biron
over his blocker.
The overtime winner was a classic power-forward goal. With the Penguins skating up two men, Guerin found himself open on the left post. He took a slap pass from Sergei Gonchar
, calmly waited for an opening, and found the slightest of gaps between Biron's right pad and the post.
It wasn't just the scoring, though. He took eight shots, was credited with two hits and blocked a shot. He also played 23:03 -- not bad for a 38-year-old.
"Tonight he keeps saying the right things, keeps doing the right things," said Penguins coach Dan Bylsma. "His shot on the first goal, he proves that. He gets the puck there on the side of the net (in overtime), he's patient, he takes a step to the middle. Looks like he was calm when he put in the net, but I'm not sure he was calm on the inside. Nor were we calm on the bench."
Guerin's contributions off the ice and in the locker room have been just as important. The veteran touch had been an ingredient the Penguins had been missing.
"The thing you saw on the ice tonight, and also in our room, is he brings a calmness to our team," Bylsma said. "Says the right thing, knows the different moods, knows when to crack a joke, when to be serious. He's been in these situations before. Heading into Game 1, he was one of the guys that was a voice of experience in different situations."
"If you would have seen Billy the first day he was here, you'd have thought he had been here for 10 or 15 years the way he was poking fun at guys," defenseman Brooks Orpik
told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "He just kind of fit in socially right away."
Guerin won a Stanley Cup in 1995 with the New Jersey Devils. He was all of 25 back then and thought there would be similar success for years to come. But the Devils missed the playoffs the next season, and through all the years and all the stops -- Edmonton, Boston, Dallas, St. Louis, San Jose and Long Island -- he's never gotten back to hockey's grandest stage. It hasn't been for lack of effort; things just haven't bounced his way.
This season could be different.
"This team has incredible chemistry," Guerin said. "The guys all get along great, which is important. They have fun together, but they also hold each other accountable each and every night. … I think that's the sign of a close team."Contact Adam Kimelman at email@example.com.
As in Game 1, the Penguins' resurgent power play lifted them. Off the faceoff after Jeff Carter's
penalty with 4:04 left in regulation and the Penguins trailing 2-1, Kris Letang
fired a shot from the point. With Bill Guerin
and Evgeni Malkin
parked in front of the Flyers' net, Letang's shot went off Malkin and past Martin Biron
to tie the game and force overtime.Jordan Staal
continued to do everything right for the Penguins. He skated hard, checked and hit. And his strong move to the Flyers' net with 4:04 left in the third period forced Jeff Carter
to hook him to the ice, and allowed the Penguins to score the game-tying power-play goal.
must shop at Costco, because he brought the sandpaper in bulk again in Game 2. Hitting anything wearing white and orange, Cooke again was a physical force all over the ice.
Six, as in the number of penalty minutes the Flyers took into the first overtime. In Game 1, they took 35 minutes in penalties, including 16 minutes for Scott Hartnell
. Hartnell stayed out of the penalty box and scored the Flyers' first goal.
The teams travel and play again Sunday afternoon, which doesn't leave a whole lot of time to rest any battered bodies and get the skating legs back. The team that recovers fastest will have the real advantage heading into Game 3.