MONTREAL - Although several of his teammates were also playing their first game in a Canadiens jersey Wednesday night, newest Hab and ex-Bruin Sergei Samsonov had even more reason to be a little nervous.
As if playing in front of a near-capacity crowd at the Bell Centre wasn't enough to get Samsonov's juices flowing, he was also facing his former team for the first time.
Just as he has throughout training camp so far, head coach Guy Carbonneau had Samsonov playing alongside fellow countryman Alex Kovalev and Mike Ribeiro. The Habs' new No. 15 logged just under 20 minutes of ice-time and almost made his only shot of the night a memorable one. With the Canadiens trailing 2-1 and just over 10 seconds remaining in regulation, Samsonov came painfully close to slipping a loose puck past Brian Finley, but the Bruins' goalie somehow managed to keep the puck out.
"In the preseason, there's always room for improvement, but I felt good out there," said Samsonov. "It was a first game in a while for Alex, Mike and myself. We'll probably need a few more games to find our groove."
Ribeiro is also confident that it will only be a matter of time before he and his Russian wingers start filling the net.
"For our first time out, I think we moved the puck well and managed to create some good scoring chances," said the 26-year-old centerman. "I'm sure we'll get into a rhythm soon. Sergei and Alex are so loaded with talent that I can't see how our line won't get it going in a hurry."
Now rivals, ex-linemates Sergei Samsonov and Glen Murray won't be embracing anytime soon.
Someone who knows all about what Samsonov brings to the table is his former Bruins sidekick Glen Murray.
"Sergei was a lot of fun to play with and he opened up so much ice when we played on a line together," said Murray, who spent four-plus seasons with Samsonov in Boston, beginning with the 2001-02 season when Murray and Samsonov finished 1-2 in team scoring. "He may not be the biggest guy around, but he's definitely solid on his skates and tough to knock off the puck. His legs are like tree trunks and he sure knows how to make guys miss."
While the Bruins did go out and sign free agents like Marc Savard and Zdeno Chara in the offseason, Murray was still disappointed to see Samsonov leave Beantown.
"He's a great guy and an awesome teammate, it was tough to see him go, but I think the change of scenery will do him some good," added Murray. "I really see Sergei clicking with Kovalev and fans in Montreal are going to really enjoy seeing them play together."
Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.com