Haiti on his mind, Laraque scores

CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 11:35 AM ET

MONTREAL -- It's one of the reasons why we watch.

You never know when you are going to see something special.

On a night when events outside of the rink were weighing heavily on the big shoulders of Montreal Canadiens enforcer George Laraque, he still managed to leap a good 18 inches off the ice during the Canadiens 5-3 win over the Dallas Stars at the Bell Centre.

Laraque, who has family in Haiti and has been consumed with the aftermath of the devastating earthquake there, scored his first goal as a Hab early in the second period tonight, on the second of his two shots on goal this season.

Laraque, who has an uncle and cousins in the shattered Caribbean island, made a nice move behind the net of the Dallas Stars and then got out in front. Two whacks later, as he pitched forward on his knees for his second stab at it, the puck was behind Stars goaltender Marty Turco, tieing the game 2-2.

Laraque then jumped to his feet and launched his 6-foot-4, 245-pound frame into the glass in the corner to Turco's left.

He bounced off and looked skyward, pulling his fists towards his chin and did it again as he made his way to the Canadiens' bench.

A nice moment for a guy with a lot on his mind.

“I'm going to dedicate this to all the Haitians who are looking for (family and friends),” said Laraque. “I was wondering if I should play or go down there and do more. I've got things on my mind that are much more important than hockey when the whole country where your parents were born is destroyed.

“If there was a game I wanted to score, it was this one. It was magical.”

Before the game, in a message delivered on the video scoreboard, Canadiens president Pierre Boivin announced the Canadiens were accepting donations for Haitian relief and said the Canadiens would match the amount collected over the next few home games.

It was a gesture that resonated with Laraque, whose mother was born in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince.

“I didn't expect that and it makes me proud to put this jersey on,” said Laraque. “It's why the best thing in the world is to wear a Montreal Canadiens jersey.”

The Canadiens went on to take a 3-2 lead about four minutes later when Benoit Pouliot scored his seventh of the season -- and fifth for the Habs after being picked up from the Minnesota Wild for Guillaume Latendresse 10 games ago -- on a nice backhand move from the edge of the crease, lifting the puck over Turco's left shoulder.

The Stars' Mike Modano scored the 550th goal of his sparkling NHL career to tie it once more at 14:55 of the second.

Pouliot did the spade work seven minutes into the third to put the Habs back on top, wristing a low shot from the left circle that Turco kicked right onto the stick of the Canadiens' Brian Gionta, who put it into the open side as he eluded the check of Dallas defenceman Stephane Robidas for his second of the night.

Canadiens forward Mike Cammalleri scored his 21st of the season with just under five minutes to go in the third on a nifty spin move on Dallas defenceman Matt Niskanen, turning onto his backhand in the middle and then spinning to his forehand and snapping a shot by Niskanen and Turco.

Carey Price got the win in the Montreal net, facing 36 shots.


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