MONTREAL - Tomas Plekanec thought the Canadiens simply ran out of gas.
Montreal played a lacklustre overtime period against the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday night after losing the lead in the third period, and their momentum. They eventually lost the game 3-2 in a shootout.
"We weren't able to get some speed," said Plekanec of the overtime period. "The support was a little bit of an issue too. We left the zone too quickly. We were too spread out.
"We couldn't get a first pass in our zone. We were holding onto the puck."
Montreal entered the third with a 2-1 lead on the back of second period goals by Rene Bourque and Michael Bournival, but gave up a goal to Chris Stewart midway through the third. The goal took the wind out of the Habs' sails, and they were on their heels for the rest of the game.
The Canadiens had no shots in overtime.
"We didn't have a good first pass coming out of our own end," said captain Brian Gionta of overtime. "The crowd got frustrated a little bit there.
"We didn't get anything going."
The Blues, meanwhile, built on a late third period surge to continue their recent dominance over the Canadiens. St. Louis has now won the last four meetings between the teams. Montreal last beat the Blues in Nov. 2008.
T.J. Oshie scored the only goal in the shootout, beating Carey Price in the roof of the net. Price made 30 saves on the night.
"(Price) is a great goaltender," said Oshie. "He's proven that. We were just trying to get shots through any way that we could. And when they did get through, it seemed as though he was a wall back there.
"He was good in the shootout as well. I think I got a little lucky. I just tried to flip it upstairs."
Montreal did its best to support its goaltender, blocking an NHL-record 38 shots.
The game was former Canadiens netminder Jaroslav Halak's second in Montreal since being traded to the Blues in 2010. Halak earned a shutout in his only other trip to Montreal in January 2012, beating the team he once led deep into the playoffs by a decisive 3-0 score.
The Slovak goalie stopped 25 of 27 shots on Tuesday night, and he is now 3-0 against his old club.
St. Louis opened the scoring at 2:38 of the first period when Alexander Steen fired home his league-leading 13th goal of the season.
Blues captain David Backes started the play by stealing the puck from defender Douglas Murray, who was playing softly behind his own net. Backes pushed Murray down with little effort and passed the puck to a wide-open Steen, who beat Price over his left shoulder.
Montreal tied the game at 5:38 of the second period. Andrei Markov drove hard to the net, knocking Halak in the process. With Halak still shaken up, the puck fell to Bourque in the crease, making no mistake from close range.
Bournival put the Canadiens in front at 14:49, the fourth of his rookie season, when he intercepted a poor pass from Jay Bouwmeester in the St. Louis zone and quickly fired a slap shot between Halak's legs.
"I want to help the team as best as I can," said Bournival. "That's my mandate here. I want to create things offensively, apply myself defensively, try to win pucks along the boards. That's what I'm concentrating on."
Stewart levelled the score at 10:31 of the third period by deflecting a Kevin Shattenkirk blue-line shot off the post and in past Price.
"Stewart was one of our best forwards," said Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock. "He was competitive, hard on the puck, dangerous offensively. It didn't matter where we played him. If this is the level he's going to play with, it's a good level."
Plekanec was awarded a penalty shot in the final minute of the third period, but missed the net high and wide.
"Half an inch on either side, and it's a goal," said Plekanec. "It's hard to say I would do anything different on that one."
The Blues outshot the Canadiens 32-27 overall.
Overtime solved nothing before Oshie scored the shootout winner.
David Desharnais was out of the Canadiens lineup after a regrettable start to his season. The 27-year-old forward, who recently signed a 4-year contract extension with the Habs, has managed only one point in 15 games this season.
Forward Martin St-Pierre, who was recently called up from the Hamilton Bulldogs (AHL), made his Montreal Canadiens debut playing on the fourth line with George Parros and Ryan White, in place of Desharnais. St-Pierre, who currently leads the Bulldogs with eight points, finished the game with 9:53 of ice time.
St-Pierre's family was in attendance at the Bell Centre.
"It was a really nice experience," said St-Pierre. "I'll always remember that.
"I don't think I could feel my legs in warm-up. It's part of getting ready, and getting focused. It was good to get the legs going in the first period. All in all, I'm pretty happy with my performance."
Notes: The Canadiens were coming off back-to-back road losses to the Minnesota Wild and Colorado Avalanche. ????????? Montreal was without injured players Daniel Briere, Brandon Prust, Alexei Emelin and Travis Moen. There is no timetable yet for their return. ????????? Montreal heads to Ottawa to play the Senators on Thursday, Nov. 7.