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What slump?

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens
Samsonov springs to life with two goals against former mates

Sergei Samsonov was too much for his ex-teammates to handle on Tuesday night.

MONTREAL - Sometimes all it takes is one, but two is even better. By scoring a pair of goals against the Bruins Tuesday night, Sergei Samsonov not only notched his fifth and sixth goals of the season, he also shook a grand piano from his back.

Just under seven minutes into the second period, Samsonov scooped up his own rebound and flicked a backhand over a helpless Hannu Toivonen before letting out a sigh of relief. Samsonov was just warming up, fooling Toivonen a second time to put the Canadiens ahead to stay in the final frame.

Samsonov's 19-game scoring drought - his longest since going goalless for 11 straight games in 2003-04 with the Bruins - ended in style with his second two-goal game of the season.

"It's quite a relief," admitted Samsonov, who also potted a pair in a 5-4 shootout loss on Oct. 28 against the Maple Leafs . "It's the kind of thing that just gets in your head. A weight you carry whenever you step foot into the arena."

Samsonov looked like a new man after snapping his dry spell.

"It's was a frustrating stretch to go through," said the game's first star. "You start doubting yourself at a certain point. You try to find answers but all you can do is keep plugging away and working hard. It really comes down to not giving up."

The 28-year-old winger took his scoring frustrations out on his former team by firing a season-high seven shots on goal, including six in the second period alone. The speedy Russian was all over the ice against the Bruins and his breakout night came much to the delight of his head coach, who preached patience throughout the much-publicized slump and never lost faith in the 1998 NHL rookie of the year.

"I think Sergei played his best game of the year and it's not just because he scored a couple of goals," said Carbonneau. "He was involved in everything it seemed tonight. His first goal was a prime example of that. He worked hard to keep the puck in the zone, deked a few players and crashed the net for his own rebound. It's no big secret that unless you have a shot like Sheldon's, most goals are scored five-to-ten feet from the net."

Opponents looking to keep Samsonov from doing exactly that will have to catch him first.

Manny Almela is a writer for

Canadiens 4, Bruins 3 

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