MONTREAL – Jaroslav Halak got the better of his former team once again.
Halak stopped a Tomas Plekanec penalty shot with 48.9 seconds to play in regulation, then didn’t allow a goal in the shootout to lead the St. Louis Blues to a 3-2 win against the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre on Tuesday night.
Alexander Steen scored his League-leading 13th goal in 13 games and Chris Stewart also scored for the Blues (9-2-2), who won for the fourth time in five games.
T.J. Oshie was the lone shooter to score in the shootout.
Carey Price made 30 saves and got a lot of help from his Canadiens teammates, who blocked 38 shots.
Halak was playing his second game in Montreal and his third against the Canadiens since his trade to the Blues in the summer of 2010 that immediately followed him leading the Canadiens to the Eastern Conference Final.
Halak led the Blues to a 4-1 win at home against Price and the Canadiens on March 10, 2011, and he shut out the Canadiens 3-0 at Bell Centre on Jan. 10, 2012, getting a standing ovation from the crowd after he was named the game’s first star.
The postgame reaction was quite different this time, with groans coming from the crowd instead of cheers. Max Pacioretty shot wide on Montreal’s final attempt in the shootout to seal the win for the Blues.
Steen failed to score a goal in the Blues’ 4-2 loss at the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday, just the second time that’s happened this season. But he quickly rectified the situation by putting the Blues ahead at 2:38 of the first on a one-timer of a David Backes feed.
Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin scored his 11th and 12th goals in his 13th game of the season on Tuesday to sit one behind Steen for the NHL lead.
Down 2-1 entering the third in spite of clearly controlling the play for the vast majority of the game, the Blues tied it up midway through the period when Kevin Shattenkirk’s bouncing shot from the point was tipped in by Stewart for his second goal of the season at 10:31.
Backes nearly allowed the Canadiens to win the game with 48.9 seconds to play in regulation when he was called for intentionally dislodging the Blues net, resulting in a penalty shot awarded to Montreal’s Tomas Plekanec. Plekanec came in on Halak down the middle of the ice, but his wrist shot grazed his former teammate’s arm and went wide, sending the game to overtime.
After Steen gave St. Louis the early lead the Blues dominated much of the first period, but were unable to build on that lead, thanks to Price.
The Canadiens took advantage in the second when Bourque scored his fifth of the season at 5:38, picking up a rebound off defenseman Andrei Markov’s hard-driving move into Halak’s crease to tie the game.
St. Louis defenseman Jay Bouwmeester allowed the Canadiens to take the lead 2-1 at 14:49 of the second, when he was pressured by Brian Gionta into a giveaway right in the slot to Bournival, who beat Halak between the legs for his fourth goal in 10 games.