Montreal's Sergei Samsonov is hoping he's finally shaken an early season slump - and demotion.
Samsonov looks to build on a big offensive game when the Canadiens host the Ottawa Senators at the Bell Centre on Tuesday night.
Samsonov was a marquee free-agent signing with the Canadiens (5-2-3) in July after tallying 23 goals and 30 assists last season for the Boston Bruins and Western Conference champion Edmonton Oilers.
His start with Montreal, though, was a rocky one as he picked up just two goals and two assists in his first nine games. Samsonov also wasn't shy in voicing his displeasure when he was demoted from the second to the fourth line in favor of rookie Guillaume Latendresse.
"When I came here, I thought I was going to be a go-to guy and obviously, that's not the case right now. What is it going to take? I don't know. We'll see," Samsonov said before a 3-2 win over the Bruins on Thursday.
Two nights later, Samsonov scored two goals in the Canadiens' 5-4 shootout loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Coach Guy Carbonneau reunited him with fellow Russian Alex Kovalev for parts of the game, and the two helped Montreal earn a point despite being outshot 51-22.
"I wasn't trying to send the coach a message," Samsonov told the canadiens.com Web site. "That's not the kind of relationship you want to have with a coach."
Kovalev assisted on three goals, including both of Samsonov's, and has three goals and six assists this season. Defenseman Sheldon Souray scored the game-tying goal and leads the team with 12 points.
"That's why those guys are here, to score big goals for us," Souray, a defenseman, said of Samsonov and Kovalev. "It was just a matter of time before they got it going."
Fellow blueliner Criag Rivet said the Canadiens need to step up their play.
"We haven't had a good start all season," he said. "It's been talked about numerous times. We don't want to be behind the eight-ball and have to play a catch-up game because it's mentally hard on the guys and it's not the type of hockey we want to play."
Montreal's defense looks to keep in check an Ottawa offense that stumbled some after scoring a club-record tying 21 goals in three games before Saturday's 2-1 loss to Boston. Dany Heatley scored his team-high seventh goal for the Senators (5-5-0).
Martin Gerber made 30 saves, but Ray Emery, who is 3-1-0 with a league-best 1.60 GAA is scheduled to start against Montreal. He's 2-2-0 with a 3.32 GAA in his career at the Bell Centre.
Defenseman Wade Redden missed the game with a lower body injury and is questionable for this contest. He didn't take part in the team's full practice on Monday.
"I left (practice early) so obviously it's not feeling great," Redden told the ottawasenators.com Web site. "Theres been progress and it's a day-to-day thing. We'll see how it goes (Tuesday)."
Forward Peter Schaefer missed his fourth straight game with a hip flexor injury and is also questionable.
The Senators beat Montreal 3-2 in a shootout on Oct. 14 in Ottawa. Samsonov scored the game-tying goal with less than four minutes remaining in regulation.