DALLAS --Eric Nystrom continues to make Dallas general manager Joe Nieuwendyk look like a genius.
The Stars picked up Nystrom on waivers from Minnesota at the start of the season after he scored just four times for the Wild in 2010-11. He's become an offensive threat in Dallas, and his goal with 2:20 left in regulation on Thursday night gave the Stars a 3-2 victory against the Ottawa Senators.
Nystrom's ninth goal capped a full 60-minute effort by the Stars, who rallied from a 2-1 deficit late in the final period. Radek Dvorak tied it with 5:34 to play before Nystrom's game-winner.
"It's that 60-minute cliché game that we talk about," said forward Steve Ott, who had Dallas' first goal. "For us, sticking with our structure, sticking with that pesky, hard-work hockey paid off again and it's done that a lot this year."
“He’s been great,” Ott said of Raycroft. “He’s backed up for a long time, but he’s also been a phenomenal starter in this league at a young age. We have a lot of faith in Razor, he works extremely hard in practice. We knew he was ready to step in if anything happened to Lehts, it’s a shame because Kari’s such a good goaltender, but he’ll be back. In the meantime, we have lots of faith in Razor and he’ll continue to do a good job.”
"It's obviously disappointing," Ottawa coach Paul MacLean said. "I thought the first 55 minutes we played real well and unfortunately, we played defensive in the last five minutes and we couldn't get out of our end with the pucks. They had opportunities and they made the most of them."
Ottawa opened the scoring 7:07 into the game when Condra beat Raycroft with a wrister from the high slot. Jared Cowen started the sequence by stealing the puck from defenseman Philip Larsen near center ice after a punishing hit on the Dallas rookie. Cowen then fed Condra, who finished beautifully.
Dallas answered when Ott tipped in a blast from Toby Petersen on the power play at 9:38. It was the Stars' first power-play goal in 22 opportunities, a drought that had lasted eight games. Petersen's long wrister from the left point was touched by Ott, whose redirect from the low slot beat Senators goalie Craig Anderson to his right for the equalizer.
At 15:30, the visitors nearly took their second lead of the night when Daniel Alfredsson's slap shot beat Raycroft but caromed off the crossbar.
Ottawa regained the lead at 11:42 of the third period when Michalek scored his 15th of the season off a rebound. Raycroft stopped Alfredsson's shot from the right point, but the rebound went flying toward Michalek and he grabbed it out of the air, set the puck on the ice snapped a shot from inside the left circle past Raycroft for the go-ahead tally.
The Stars got even when Dvorak redirected a pass from Mike Ribeiro for his third of the season.
Just over three minutes later, Nystrom got the game-winner. Dvorak fed Vernon Fiddler, whose shot was stopped by Craig Anderson. The carom came to Nystrom, who was waiting behind the net; he stepped out and buried a wrister from just inside the right circle.
"That was some shift," Nystrom said. "We got in there, we got possession, we were just making short little plays and kind of grinding them down, had a couple of chances. We kind of got them running and just had a seeing-eye shot that just found the far corner."
The Senators pulled Anderson with 1:10 remaining and forced Raycroft to make big stops on Erik Karlsson's screened shot from the right and Alfredsson on the rebound as the final horn sounded.
"We wish he wouldn't have had to make those saves," Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said. "I think the most important thing we got from those saves was just that confidence. [Raycroft] gave that to us in Colorado, [and had a] big save with a second left tonight. All that does with our group is lift it a little higher as we move forward and lift him a little higher, so it's nothing but a positive. "
1 - 0 OTT
1 - 1 Tie
2 - 1 OTT
2 - 2 Tie
3 - 2 DAL