The first one was the hardest for the free agent who became the instant Islanders captain. Put his entire effort together and it added up to his ninth NHL hat trick in Thursday night's 5-2 victory over the Washington Capitals.
"Just getting the first one felt great," said Guerin, who signed a two-year, $9 million deal as a free agent from San Jose. "It was kind of getting the monkey off your back. It was good. I could sit back and be myself a little bit and stop pressing."
It's not that Guerin hasn't been producing -- he entered the game with a team-high six assists -- but his offensive outburst ended a two-game losing streak for the Islanders on a night when his team went 3-for-5 on the power play.
"A guy like Billy, he's a proven goal-scorer," coach Ted Nolan said. "Once he gets the first one, things started to roll."
Sean Bergenheim and Bryan Berard also scored for the Islanders, who blew a 2-0 lead in the third period before rallying for three late goals. New York defenseman Chris Campoli had a career-high four assists, and Rick DiPietro made 27 saves.
Alexander Ovechkin and Tomas Fleischmann scored for the Capitals, who have lost three in a row after opening the season with three wins. Washington's special teams were a disaster: In addition to three power-play goals allowed, they went 0-for-6 with a man advantage, including a blown 52-second five-on-three opportunity in the second period. They are 4-for-31 on the power play this season.
Olaf Kolzig had a horrid night, allowing three long slap-shot goals on power plays and committing a needless roughing penalty that gave New York a five-on-three advantage in the second period. The five goals allowed were more than he had yielded in his first three games combined. Through a team spokesman, he declined to speak to reporters after the game.
Without naming Kolzig, coach Glen Hanlon said he wasn't upset with his penalty-killing units.
"The power play is another story," Hanlon said. "We weren't happy. I'm going to have to make some changes."
Down by two goals after two periods, the Capitals rallied to tie within the first seven minutes of the third. Joe Motzko intercepted a pass at center ice and fed Ovechkin on an odd-man rush for the Russian forward's fourth goal of the season. Nicklas Backstrom had a player draped all over him on the boards when he somehow found Fleischmann in front of the net for an easy goal to make it 2-2.
But Chris Clark's tripping penalty gave Berard the chance to put the Islanders back ahead. Berard sent a slap shot under Kolzig's left pad with 10:41 remaining.
Guerin followed with another power-play slap shot to Kolzig's glove side with 5:52 left and then added an even-strength goal with 1:34 to play.
"Special teams had a big role," Berard said. "Penalty-killing was tremendous -- so was power play. We scored three goals. Billy caught on fire."
Ovechkin has a point in each of his first six games. ... The Capitals again played without Alexander Semin, out with a sprained ankle. "He's not even skating yet," Hanlon said. "He's still a ways away." ... The Islanders' five goals matched their output from their previous four games combined. ... Kolzig usually has the Islanders' number. The loss dropped him to 26-10 with two ties against the franchise, the most wins he has against any opponent.