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Klingberg helps Stars top Senators in Spezza's return

by Chris Stevenson /

OTTAWA -- Rookie defenseman John Klingberg scored off the rush at 10:51 of the third period to break a tie and help the Dallas Stars to a 6-3 win against the Ottawa Senators at Canadian Tire Centre on Thursday.

Klingberg poke-checked the puck away from Senators rookie forward Mike Hoffman inside the Stars blue line and streaked away alone down the right wing. He cut in and put a shot over Ottawa goalie Robin Lehner's left shoulder.

"I saw I had a lot of ice to skate and I wanted to go five-hole first, but I saw their D-man came back pretty fast, so I just tried to go high first corner and got a good goal there," Klingberg said. "It feels good. I think I've taken huge steps every game. I learn a lot."

Lehner, who got the start after No. 1 goaltender Craig Anderson sustained a hand injury in the Senators' final game before the All-Star break, made 35 saves.

Kari Lehtonen made 25 saves for the Stars (22-19-7), who ended a two-game skid. Dallas got two goals from captain Jamie Benn.

Klingberg, 22, also had an assist to go with his game-winner. Selected by Dallas in the fifth round (No. 131) at the 2010 NHL Draft, he was called up in November after starting the season with the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League.

"He's an impressive kid. That was one heck of a goal he scored. You have to have a special talent to pull that off," Dallas coach Lindy Ruff said. "He has scored some special goals for us … for a kid that's played 35 games in this league, it's pretty impressive."

In 34 games, Klingberg has 20 points, second in the NHL among rookie defensemen to the Florida Panthers' Aaron Ekblad (28).

Ottawa rallied from a 3-0 deficit to tie the game early in the third period on former Dallas forward Alex Chiasson's eighth goal. The Senators (19-19-9), playing their first game after an eight-day All-Star break, lost for the seventh time in their past 10 games (3-5-2).

Stars defenseman Trevor Daley and Benn each scored into an empty net in the final minute with Dallas shorthanded. Daley also had two assists.

Stars center Jason Spezza, who was playing his first game at Canadian Tire Centre since asking for and receiving a trade from the Senators last summer, was booed the first time he handled the puck, but received an ovation when a tribute on the scoreboard was shown during the first television timeout of the first period.

The 31-year-old former Senators captain was traded to the Stars on July 1 along with forward Ludwig Karlsson for Chiasson, prospects Nick Paul and Alex Guptill and a second-round pick at the 2015 NHL Draft.

"I'm happy to have it over. It was an emotional game. I was really thankful to the Senators organization for having a little tribute for me there, the reception and the fans' acknowledgment," Spezza said. "It was a great chapter in my career being here. For me, this gives me a little bit of a closing of a chapter and looking forward to the future with the Stars."

Spezza said he heard the boos.

"Yeah, but that's hockey. I expected it a little bit. I did ask for a trade," he said. "The organization and myself had good talks at the end of the year. These things are never easy break-ups, but I think it was as amicable as it could be. They respected where I was coming from. I think it gives them a chance to move forward too."

For a couple of days at practice, it looked like Chiasson might be a scratch Thursday against his former team, but Senators coach Dave Cameron decided to have him in the lineup. Chiasson tied the game 3-3 at 2:45 of the third period to complete Ottawa's comeback from the three-goal deficit.

Chiasson beat Klingberg to the left post and scored on a pass from Kyle Turris for his first goal in 17 games.

"I faced a little bit of adversity this week. It's not easy as a player to think you're going to be out of the lineup," he said. "(I) found out this morning I'm going to play against my former team … didn't think I had a good first period but the last two were much better. Got to build on this."

Senators forward Bobby Ryan helped set up Mika Zibanejad for his 12th goal with 3:58 left in the first, and then scored his 13th with 1:30 remaining to make it 3-2 after the first period.

The Stars scored three times in a 4:21 span of the first period to jump ahead. Benn scored at 7:37 on the power play to open the scoring. The key was a nice feed by Klingberg, who found Benn with a pass from the point to the front of the net.

Dallas forward Colton Sceviour picked up his first of two points on the night when he scored his sixth goal at 8:36. Daley made the important play, outskating Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson around the net and passing to Vernon Fiddler. Sceviour tipped Fiddler's shot by Lehner.

The Stars scored with the man-advantage for a second time -- it was the fifth time in 48 games Dallas has scored more than one power-play goal -- when Ales Hemsky scored over Lehner's glove at 11:58.

"I thought our whole game was slow, sloppy," Cameron said. "We were a real easy team to play against tonight, so that led to some real quality chances against. It was one of those games we got back into it, but we still didn't have the jump.

"Robin was just like everybody else on the team -- not quite as sharp as we wanted."

Anderson is day-to-day with the hand injury.

The Senators, who are 11 points behind the New York Rangers for the final Eastern Conference wild-card spot into the Stanley Cup Playoffs, will host the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday afternoon.

The Stars wrap up a three-game trip to Canada at the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday.

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