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Monday, April 7

Updated: April 7, 7:49 PM ET

Wing back after 50-game layoff

Associated Press

BOSTON -- One regular-season game after a 50-game layoff following wrist surgery gave Sergei Samsonov the news he wanted: He's ready for the playoffs.

Sergei Samsonov
Left Wing
Boston Bruins
Profile
2002-2003 SEASON STATISTICS
GM G A PTS +/- PIM
8 5 6 11 8 2

The speedy, shifty wing said Monday there's soreness and pain in his right wrist, but he's confident he'll play Wednesday night in the Boston Bruins' playoff opener at New Jersey.

''I feel pretty comfortable going into the playoffs,'' he said after practice. ''It's always hard to play the first game after not playing for a long time and I'm happy to get it out of the way.''

Samsonov had a goal and an assist in the 8-5 victory Saturday over Buffalo, the Bruins' regular-season finale. He played just eight games this season but had five goals and six assists.

His return gives Boston a solid second line behind Joe Thornton, Glen Murray and Mike Knuble. Samsonov plays with Jozef Stumpel and Marty McInnis.

''Today's our first or second practice where we practiced together,'' Samsonov said. ''It always takes some time, no matter who you play with.''

His style is different than that of any of his teammates. His elusiveness and playmaking draw attention and create opportunities for other Bruins.

''That brings back an option we haven't had all year,'' said Knuble, who scored 30 goals as Samsonov's replacement on the first line. ''That could be the missing link that we've missed all season.''

Samsonov was the NHL rookie of the year in 1997-98 when he had 22 goals and 25 assists. He had 29 goals in each of the last two seasons.

''I'm happy I scored that goal (Saturday). It just gives you so much confidence that you can still score,'' he said. ''I don't think I'm 100 percent there yet.''

But that's fine with the Bruins.

''He's going to make a big difference whatever percentage he's at,'' goalie Steve Shields said. ''It's a lot better than not having him in the lineup.''
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