It didn't take Sergei Samsonov long to get back involved in the Boston Bruins' play-making.
The Bruins' forward, who missed the previous 18 games with a sprained right wrist, returned to the lineup last night and set up one of linemate Joe Thornton's two goals and added a third-period goal as the Bruins beat the Penguins, 3-2, last night in Pittsburgh.
"Not bad, huh? It's nice to have him back," said Thornton, who scored his 12th and 13th goals of the season and assisted on Samsonov's eventual game-winner at 2 minutes 2 seconds of the third period. "It's so nice to have that speed on the left side. For his first game back, he looked pretty good out there."
The game matched the top teams in the Eastern Conference. The loss snapped a four-game winning streak for the Atlantic Division-leading Penguins, while the Northeast Division-leading Bruins are 9-1-1 in their last 11 games.
"Hey, we've got some good players," said Thornton, who has three goals and 11 points during a five-game scoring streak. "I don't think a lot of people realize that. This is not surprising to any of the guys in here, and it's been a lot of fun."
Samsonov helped Thornton break a 1-1 tie at 13:38 of the second period when he cut from the left wing into the high slot and passed back to Thornton at the bottom of the left circle for Thornton's second goal of the game.
Samsonov made it 3-1 when the teams were skating four-on-four. Bryan Berard's pass from the right wing corner caromed off Samsonov's right skate as he cut into the slot, and the puck slid past Pittsburgh goaltender Jean-Sebastien Aubin. The play was reviewed by the video goal judge, but it was ruled Samsonov didn't kick the puck into the net.
"Those guys have a great knack for the net," Pittsburgh center Wayne Primeau said of Thornton, Samsonov and linemate Glen Murray. "Samsonov is a pretty amazing player. He's so shifty. He's one of the better players in the league, and guys like that can come back strong from any amount of time out."
* FLYERS 2, CANADIENS 1: Justin Williams scored on a breakaway with 6.3 seconds remaining in overtime in Montreal.
Williams stripped the puck from defenseman Patrice Brisebois at the Philadelphia blueline and moved in on goalie Jeff Hackett, who had stopped 37 of 38 shots.
"It took 64 minutes and change to get the win tonight and we worked that whole time," Williams said.
Michal Handzus also scored for the Flyers, who ended a three-game losing streak.
* CANUCKS 5, PANTHERS 2: Matt Cooke scored a short-handed goal, and Vancouver added three power-play tallies to beat Florida on the road and stretch their franchise-record winning streak to 10 games.
Markus Naslund, Todd Bertuzzi and Sami Salo each scored power-play goals for the Canucks. Brendan Morrison also scored, and Dan Cloutier (14-5-3) made 29 saves to earn his first career win against Florida (1-3-1).
* DEVILS 5, BLUES 4: In St. Louis, Jeff Friesen scored with 12 seconds left in overtime to lift New Jersey. Friesen scored off a pass from Joe Nieuwendyk for his sixth goal of the season.
* MAPLE LEAFS 3, SABRES 1: Alexander Mogilny had a goal and two assists for host Toronto. Mats Sundin and Robert Svehla also scored for the Maple Leafs.
* HURRICANES 4, BLUE JACKETS 2: Erik Cole scored two second-period goals and Carolina held on in Columbus. The defending Eastern Conference champion Hurricanes moved into first place in the Southeast Division. Columbus has lost four of five.
* SENATORS 4, ISLANDERS 2: Marian Hossa had two goals and an assist to extend his club-record point streak to 13 games and lead host Ottawa, which extended its unbeaten streak to 10 games.
* PREDATORS 5, STARS 2: Andy Delmore and Scott Hartnell each had a power-play goal and an assist to lead Nashville at home.
* OILERS 1, AVALANCHE 0: Tommy Salo made 22 saves, and Daniel Cleary scored his first goal of the season as host Edmonton extended its unbeaten streak to six games.
* KINGS 4, BLACKHAWKS 1: In Los Angeles, Derek Armstrong and Eric Belanger scored 27 seconds apart at the end of a four-goal rally in the second period, and Mathieu Schneider had two assists.
* COYOTES 3, SHARKS 2: Branko Radivojevic scored the tiebreaking goal midway through the third period in San Jose and Phoenix snapped a six-game winless streak. It was the Coyotes' first win since Nov. 15 against Atlanta.