-- Upon returning following a brain contusion, Ian Laperriere
proved to be a major headache for the Montreal Canadiens
It was only 31 days ago that Laperriere, the emotional grinder for the Philadelphia Flyers
, suffered a brain contusion after going down to block a shot in the third period of Game 5 against the New Jersey Devils
Not only was he in danger of missing out the remainder of the playoffs, but there was talk that his career could be in jeopardy.
Those rumors were squelched Saturday afternoon when Laperriere returned to the ice and made life miserable for the Canadiens during the Flyers' 3-0 victory in Game 4.
"I'm tired," Laperriere said after the Flyers gained a 3-1 edge in the series. "But I'm excited. I had fun out there, back with my teammates. Hockey's my passion, but I've got to think about my family, that's my life. It was just great to be with the boys for a big win."
Laperriere jostled with Roman Hamrlik
, ticked off Ryan O'Byrne
, delivered a big-time hit on Jaroslav Spacek
and was sent to the penalty box a little over five minutes into the game for -- what else? -- roughing.
"That first penalty, that roughing, I took a couple punches to the face, and that kind of got me going," he said. "I knew I could take a hit. I won't lie to anybody. I was nervous all (Friday) night, and (Saturday) just to take that first hit, and I did, and I got bumped around like I usually do."
When the Flyers were forced to kill off a man advantage by the Canadiens in the third period, coach Peter Laviolette
sent out Laperriere to play his usual role with linemate Blair Betts
"It took a little miracle," Laperriere said of his return to the lineup. "They told me I had a chance to come back. I put a lot of effort to return to the lineup. It is a great night. (Being out) was the worst time of my career sitting out and watching the team doing so well. The good news is that since they were playing so well it gave me some time to get healthy. I am so proud of the boys and being a part of history that we are riding right now."
Monday night (7 p.m. ET, VERSUS, CBC, RDS), Laperriere returns to Philadelphia, where he received a standing ovation a little over two weeks ago, during a second-period stoppage in Game 3 against the Boston Bruins
. At that time, footage of Laperriere's injury was shown along with the graphic: "What if Ian didn't believe in sacrifice?"
"I still can't believe it," Laperriere said at the time of the ovation. "I mean, I've been here for seven months and to show me they appreciate what I do, I don't have the words to describe it."
He should prepare for a similar ovation when he steps on the home ice for the first since being sidelined almost a month ago.
"I'm a family guy," Laperriere said. "I've got two kids at home. I've got a wife. I've got to think about that. I didn't want to be selfish, and all four (neurologists) were 100 percent sure that I wasn't (taking a risk by playing). That doesn't mean I won't get hit, but I wasn't more at risk than before. And that's why I made my decision to come back. That's it."
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale