ST. LOUIS (AP) - Alexei Kovalev saved the Montreal Canadiens from a disastrous collapse and helped salvage a victory on a rather forgettable road trip.
Kovalev scored with 1:25 left to lift Montreal a 4-3 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Saturday night. His goal came just 43 seconds after the Blues rallied from a 3-0 deficit to tie the score, and helped the Canadiens avoid losing five straight away from home.
"I kept saying to (Maxim) Lapierre and Steve (Begin), just keep throwing the puck at the net and good things will happen for us, and that's exactly what happened on that last play," Kovalev said. "Someone threw the puck at the net, I stopped it and was able to make a play."
Montreal lost the first four games of a road trip that ended in St. Louis. During that span, the Canadiens were shutout 4-0 by the Rangers, and lost 8-5 at Buffalo. They had lost five straight away from Montreal before Saturday.
Montreal jumped out to a 3-0 lead and chased Blues goalie Curtis Sanford early in the second period. But St. Louis came back and tied it with 2:08 left on Glen Metropolit's power-play goal off a rebound.
Kovalev, who also assisted on Guillaume Latendresse's goal that gave Montreal a 3-0 lead five minutes into the second period, was stationed just outside the goal crease when the puck found its way to him for the winning goal. Blues defender Matt Walker was hit from behind and lost control of the puck.
"The puck just bounced around," Doug Weight said. "It hit a skate. It hit my skate and it went right in on Kovalev's stick. Obviously, he makes no mistake when he's in tight like that."
Weight scored his 11th goal midway through the second to get St. Louis on the board and David Backes made it 3-2 with a goal 7 minutes into the third period. The Blues thought they had tied it at 3 a few minutes later when Lee Stempniak scored, only to have the referees wave it off for an offside call.
The Blues thought they had tied it 3-3 a few minutes later when Lee Stempniak scored, only to have the referees wave it off for an offside call. Metropolit finished the comeback with his first goal since joining the Blues on Feb. 25 in a trade that sent Keith Tkachuk to Atlanta.
Montreal coach Guy Carbonneau said he liked the way his team bounced back after losing the lead.
"It's always frustrating," he said. "I think everyone was upset, but we stuck to our game and Alex made a huge play at the end of the game to win it for us."
The Canadiens scored 1:01 into the game. Mathieu Dandenault sent a pass from just inside the blue-line to Steve Begin, who was alone in front of the Blues net. His tip of Dandenault's pass hit the post behind Sanford, than the goalie's foot and went into the net.
Maxim Lapierre made it 2-0 with a short-handed goal, his fourth score of the season, at 15:33 of the first period. He stole the puck from defender Eric Brewer, who mishandled it just inside the Montreal zone and chased Lapierre down the ice before he slipped it past Sanford.
Notes: Blues D Bryce Salvador left the game with 6:18 left in the first period with an upper-body injury and did not return. Montreal C Saku Koivu hooked Salvador and than hit him into the boards where Salvador was for a minute before skating off. ... Sanford faced 10 shots before he was pulled in favour of Jason Bacashihua, who stopped 11 of 12 shots. ... Saturday was the only meeting between the teams this year and the first time they played in St. Louis since 2001.