Canadiens show more sparkle than Stars
Brian Gionta and the Montreal Canadiens dealt the Dallas Stars their ninth straight road loss in a game marked by milestones, streaks and the heavy shadow of a natural disaster that hit close to home for two hockey players of Haitian descent.
Gionta scored twice in his 500th NHL game and Georges Laraque got his first goal in more than 21 months to send Montreal to a 5-3 win over the struggling Stars on Thursday night.
Gionta, who scored a power-play goal in the first period, got his second of the game with the man advantage 7:14 into the third to give the Canadiens their second and final lead.
"Obviously, it makes it a little more memorable," Gionta said. "I'm just fortunate to be here.
"I'm happy that I've been able to play that many games. I'm pretty blessed to be in the league for that long."
Benoit Pouliot and Mike Cammalleri also scored for Montreal, which had lost three of four (1-2-1).
"The guys played well," said goalie Carey Price, who stopped 33 shots.
"They kept putting pucks to the net and we got to those second chances. Gionta's goal was a classic example — throw it on net, get a rebound, put it in."
'A lot of history here'
Mike Modano got his 550th NHL goal in the second to draw the Stars even at 3-3.
"It's neat to do it here," Modano said. "There's certainly a lot of history here in Montreal.
"A lot of great things have happened here over the course of my career. There's an atmosphere like no other in the league, I think."
Toby Petersen and Steve Ott also scored for Dallas, which has not won on the road since a 3-2 shootout win in San Jose on Dec. 11.
Marty Turco made 23 saves in the Stars' first appearance in Montreal since Jan. 16, 2006. Dallas has dropped six of its last seven games overall.
"We were better," coach Marc Crawford said. "For our team, I thought our effort was pretty good tonight.
"When you get effort and you get people battling, it's not too long after that that you start to build some belief in what you're doing. I'm a believer in the hockey gods.
"Sometimes, when you're in a bad spell, they don't let you get out of it easy. They want to see you do it a couple of times, so we've got to build on the effort we had tonight."
Cammalleri scored the Canadiens' fifth goal at 16:41 of the third to make it a two-goal lead.
'Almost a miracle'
A moment of silence for Haiti earthquake victims was observed before the game. A message from Canadiens president Pierre Boivin followed on the video scoreboard. He noted that Laraque and Dallas defenseman Maxime Fortunus have family in Haiti as he invited Montreal fans to donate to UNICEF's relief effort.
"It's hard to focus and to think about hockey when your whole country, where your parents were born, is destroyed," said Laraque, who scored 2:51 into the second to tie it at 2-2.
"Port-au-Prince is where my mother was born and having family down there and not knowing what's going on, it was super hard. To get a goal today — which obviously I'm going to dedicate to all Haitians that have lost people and that are still looking for people — for that to happen today to me is almost a miracle. To happen on this day, it means so much."
Laraque, who had failed to score in his previous 62 games, put his own rebound past Turco from the slot for his first goal since March 28, 2008, when he scored for Pittsburgh in a 3-1 win over the New York Islanders.
Pouliot put Montreal ahead 3-2 with an unassisted goal at 6:44 after intercepting defenseman Matt Niskanen's reckless pass from the right corner. Pouliot put a backhand past Turco for his fifth goal in eight games.
Petersen opened the scoring 8:25 in when he faked a pass on a 2-on-1 before sending a shot along the ice between Price's legs for his fifth goal.
Gionta tied it with a power-play goal at 12:44 when he tucked a low shot inside the right post after Turco left an opening when he slid to his right.
Ott restored Dallas' one-goal lead at 15:08 when he was credited with his 10th goal after Stephane Robidas' slap shot from the point struck him on its way into the net.
James Neal, who leads Dallas with 19 goals, went to the dressing room early in the second after he broke some teeth when he was struck by a teammate's stick. He returned at the beginning of the third.