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Samsonov is thrown a curve by challenge

Left wing Sergei Samsonov has been with the Bruins for his entire NHL career, which began when he was taken with the eighth overall pick in the 1997 draft. He can be a dynamic presence on the ice, but off it, the 27-year-old is an introspective and exceedingly calm presence.

So it was uncharacteristic when Samsonov barked at the Anaheim bench midway through the third period yesterday after he was called for an illegal stick.

With the Bruins already a man down, Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle challenged the curve of Samsonov's stick. Carlyle said he was convinced during warmups that it was ''drastically illegal." When that proved to be the case, Samsonov went to the penalty box and Anaheim had a five-on-three advantage for a full two minutes.

The Ducks scored to tie the game at 3-3, and although the Bruins wound up winning in overtime, Samsonov was no less riled after the contest.

''I think it's a pretty gutless call with 10 minutes to go in the game," said Samsonov, who scored a goal with the stick at 15:35 of the first period. ''He calls that with it being five on four. He got what he deserved; they got another loss, so I'm pretty happy about that.

''It's the first time in eight years I've gotten called. You don't see that getting called very much. It's stupid really. I'm sure half the team on the other side has illegal sticks.

''I'm glad we gave them a loss in overtime. If he just wants to single me out, that's fine, but I think he got what he deserved."

For the rest of the game, Samsonov said, he borrowed a stick.

Power struggle

When Samsonov was done with Carlyle, he turned his ire to the officials. He wasn't happy with the disproportionate number of power plays over the past two games. Yesterday, Anaheim had nine power plays to four for Boston (the Ducks converted twice to none for the Bruins), and on Saturday, Dallas was 0 for 8 on the man advantage while the Bruins had just three opportunities. ''We're spending a lot of time on the penalty killing," said Samsonov. ''I think guys are getting ticked off about [the game] getting called just one way. I thought we played a pretty fair game and all of a sudden it just ends up on our side. I'm pretty glad at the way guys responded." . . . Defenseman Hal Gill returned to the lineup after missing two games because of a pinched nerve in his neck, suffered when he was drilled headfirst into the glass by former teammate Joe Thornton last Tuesday. ''There are some things that bother it," said Gill, who logged 18 minutes, 17 seconds of ice time. ''I didn't get the burner again so that was good. I think it was worth waiting another day." Coach Mike Sullivan said he elected to dress seven defensemen, one more than normal, to give Gill a safety net in case he didn't feel well enough to finish the game. ''It was Hal's first game back," said the coach. ''We weren't sure how he was going to respond. We wanted to make sure we didn't leave ourselves short on the back end." . . . The club is off today and gets back to work tomorrow before facing the Flyers in Philadelphia Thursday.

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