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Montreal forward Alex Kovalev (27) backhands the shootout winner over Blues goaltender Manny Lagace Sunday night in St. Louis. ((Jeff Roberson/Associated Press))

The Montreal Canadiens avoided a third consecutive loss after rallying to defeat the Blues 3-2 in a shootout Sunday night in St. Louis.

Winger Alex Kovalev scored the shootout winner and goaltender Carey Price made 24 saves in the victory.

Forward Andrei Kostitsyn led the Canadiens offensively with a goal and an assist.

Price and St. Louis goaltender Manny Legace denied the first five shooters, setting the stage for Kovalev. The Russian native made no mistake as he roofed a backhand over Legace to snap a two-game losing streak for the Canadiens.

"It was a pretty sweet deke," Montreal winger Christopher Higgins said of Kovalev's winner. "I don't think anyone expects less from him right now because he's such a skilled player."

Legace was expecting Kovalev to deke, but still couldn't stop the Montreal scorer.

"I knew he was going there, too," said Legace. "I was just slow to react to it. He's a good player and can put it where he put it, probably two feet over my pad. Not too many guys can pull it that quick and, bang, in the back of the net."

Despite the win, the once-efficient Montreal power play continued to nosedive.

The Canadiens, who had the 19th ranked unit heading into Sunday's contest, failed to score on 10 attempts with the man advantage. The team is now 0-20 in its last four games.

Montreal forward Robert Lang netted the tying goal late in the third period.

"I thought tonight was one of our best games," said Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau. "We were able to battle back in the third and win it in a shootout, so we're really happy."

Steve Regier notched his first two career NHL goals in the loss for St. Louis (6-8-2), which dropped its seventh game in the team's last eight contests.

"We're talking about a team that most experts picked to win the Eastern Conference this year, and we lose in the shootout to them," said Blues coach Andy Murray.

"I'm proud of the way our team battled here tonight."

Bouillon gets puck in the mouth in overtime

St. Louis didn't take long jumping on the Canadiens, scoring the game's first goal at 3:48 of the opening period.

After Cam Paddock won the draw, forward Cam Janssen fired a shot that deflected off Regier in the crease past Price.

The Blues lost centre Andy McDonald with less than two minutes remaining in the first. McDonald was chasing a loose puck in the Montreal end when his left leg buckled before he collided awkwardly into the boards.

McDonald, the Blues' leading scorer with six goals and 18 points in 15 games, was assisted to the dressing room without putting pressure on his left leg. Murray said McDonald suffered a fractured left leg and is out indefinitely.

The Canadiens tied the game 1-1 with 1:55 remaining in the second following a misplay by Legace, who made 24 saves in the game.

Kostitsyn slipped around Blues defenceman Eric Brewer and backhanded a shot that eluded the St. Louis goaltender between his pads while the teams were playing 4-on-4.

Regier, who failed to register a single point during his previous 18 NHL games, put St. Louis in front 2-1 at 3:24 of the final period. 

With the Blues on the power play, winger David Perron directed a pass toward the net that Regier buried behind Price.

The Canadiens got the all-important equalizer with 4:12 remaining when the Blues failed to clear the puck out of their own end. Lang was then able to hold off a St. Louis defender and bat the puck over the fallen Legace.

Montreal received a scare in the overtime period as defencemen Francis Bouillon took a puck to the mouth during a St. Louis man advantage. In obvious pain, Bouillon got up and immediately dashed to the Canadiens' dressing room.

With files from the Associated Press