MONTREAL - It certainly was quite a week for Sergei Samsonov. After getting bumped from his line, playing his first game in Boston since being traded, and celebrating his 28th birthday, Samsonov let his stick do the talking once he reunited with Alex Kovalev against the Leafs on Saturday night.
With the pressure mounting on his shoulders, Samsonov responded with a two-goal performance, before also beating Jean-Sebastien Aubin in the shootout.
"That's why those guys are here, to score big goals for us," said Sheldon Souray about the Habs' Russian duo that combined for five points on the night. "It was just a matter of time before they got it going. We saw it tonight, all they did was simplify their game and things began to click. Seeing Sergei break out like that was great. We're all really happy for him."
The two-goal effort was Samsonov's first since Oct. 20, 2005, when he potted a pair for the Bruins in a 4-3 loss to the Sabres in Boston.
"I wasn't trying to send the coach a message," admitted Samsonov after scoring his third and fourth goals of the season. "That's not the kind of relationship you want to have with a coach."
Whether Samsonov was looking to prove a point or not, his performance couldn't have come at a better time for the Canadiens who were outshot 51-22 by Toronto and appeared on their way to defeat.
"Our line played well tonight and it just feels good to do my part for the team," added Samsonov. "I was really comfortable with my linemates and it was nice finally to get a few bounces and thankfully we took advantage of them."
As he so often has, Kovalev again stressed how it's far too early in the season to push the panic button.
"We were looking to capitalize on their mistakes and that's what we did," said Kovalev whose three helpers against the Leafs now give him nine points on the season. "It's just a question of being patient. And besides Sergei is still getting used to his new environment."
For a guy who was allegedly in head coach Guy Carbonneau's doghouse, Samsonov found himself on the ice for many key situations and even ended up at the top of his coach's list for the shootout.
"The results speak for themselves," said Carbonneau. "After seeing how hard that line worked and the way they followed our game plan to earn us a point tonight, it's going to be tough for me to try to tell them that they won't be playing together next game."
Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.com