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Flyers 5, Canadiens 4, SO @NHLdotcom

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Desperate for a victory, the Philadelphia Flyers nearly gave it away.

After wasting a two-goal lead late in regulation and missing easy chances in overtime, the Flyers snapped a four-game losing streak and beat the Montreal Canadiens 5-4 on Monday night when Petr Nedved scored the decisive goal in a shootout.

Peter Forsberg had one goal and scored to extend the shootout after the Flyers' first two shooters missed.

R.J. Umberger, Eric Desjardins and Joni Pitkanen also scored for Philadelphia, which had lost three straight since returning from the Olympic break.

"It would be tough if we lost this one," Forsberg said. "It was great we got away with two points."

Mike Ribeiro had two goals and Chris Higgins and Sheldon Souray also scored for Montreal. The Canadiens forced overtime with two goals in the final 4:30.

Montreal's three-game winning streak ended, but the Canadiens are unbeaten in regulation in their last nine games, going 6-0-3.

"It showed character," Ribeiro said of the team's comeback. "It's a huge point on the road."

Ribeiro scored the first goal during the shootout on Montreal's second attempt. Mike Richards, who missed twice on excellent opportunities in overtime, then muffed his shot.

But Michael Ryder's shot sailed wide and Forsberg scored on a backhander. After Robert Esche stopped Alexander Perezhogin, Nedved won it with a backhander.

"It's been a good couple days with guys really taking charge of the ship," Esche said. "Guys are putting the onus on themselves to get this right. It was an ugly win."

It was an important victory for Philadelphia, which has rapidly dropped in the standings. The Flyers led the NHL in points (62) when they returned home in mid-January following an 8-2-1 road trip. But they're just 6-8-4 since and have dropped to fifth place in the Eastern Conference.

Souray tied it at 4 on a power-play goal with 1:43 left in regulation. His slap shot from the left circle sailed past Esche. A hooking penalty on Forsberg gave Montreal a four-on-three advantage as each team already had a player in the penalty box. Ribeiro's second goal made it 4-3 just 2:47 earlier.

"Taking the point after being behind two goals is a pretty good result for us," Canadiens coach Bob Gainey said.

The Flyers scored a pair of power-play goals 2:43 apart in the second period to break a scoreless tie.

Forsberg made it 1-0 with his 16th goal, slipping a rebound past goaltender Cristobal Huet during a scramble.

Esche stoned Higgins on a short-handed breakaway minutes later, deflecting the shot with his glove to preserve the lead. Umberger then made it 2-0 during the same power play. His slap shot from the left circle bounced off Huet's glove and trickled in.

Ribeiro cut it 2-1 just 48 seconds later. But the Flyers regained their two-goal lead when Desjardins scored in the third. Forsberg skated in from near the blue line and sent a crossing pass to Desjardins, who didn't gain full control of the puck but got enough to slide a shot through Huet's legs.

Montreal closed within 3-2 on Higgins' goal, but Pitkanen scored 40 seconds later to give the Flyers a 4-2 lead.

A high-sticking penalty on Gagne - back in the lineup after missing three games with a knee injury sustained in the Olympics - in the first period negated a goal by Desjardins.

Richards was alone against Huet early in overtime but his shot went wide. He was stoned on a breakaway with 6.1 seconds left to force the shootout. Esche made a couple outstanding saves in overtime.

The Flyers had Gagne back, but were without center Michal Handzus (shoulder) for the fourth consecutive game. Defensemen Kim Johnsson (concussion) and Chris Therien (head) remain out indefinitely, while former captain Keith Primeau (concussion) announced last week he'll sit out the rest of the season.

Notes: Philadelphia is 3-5 in shootouts. ... The Canadiens won the season series, 3-1. ... The Flyers were 2-for-22 with the man-advantage over the last four games before scoring on consecutive power-play opportunities. ... The Flyers are 8-8-6 at home since winning nine in a row at the Wachovia Center.

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