OTTAWA - Jason Smith was an unlikely hero for the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night, scoring the winning goal in overtime to beat the Dallas Stars 5-4.
The Senators finally managed to win a game and create some offence after losing two straight and five of their last six. Ottawa had only scored five goals in its last five games, one in an empty net.
The Stars (13-14-5), making their first visit to Ottawa in three years, have problems of their own as they sit in the basement of the Pacific Division.
The win could prove to be crucial for Ottawa as they head out for a stretch of eight straight road games due to the World Junior Championships being held in Ottawa.
Daniel Alfredsson, Antoine Vermette, Jason Spezza and Alexandre Picard scored for the Senators (11-14-5). Martin Gerber faced 29 shots.
The Stars got goals from Matt Niskanen, Brad Richards, Toby Petersen and Loui Eriksson. Marty Turco stopped 27 shots.
The Senators got off on the right foot scoring the first goal as Alfredsson beat Turco with a wrist shot to the far side. However, the period ended poorly for Ottawa as Gerber allowed Niskanen to score a weak goal and tie the game.
Ottawa regained the lead early in the second on a power-play goal as Vermette scored his first in 20 games.
The Stars tied the game with a power-play goal of their own as Richards was able to carry the puck from the side boards into the middle uncontested and beat Gerber glove side.
Dallas took the lead at the halfway point of the period as Gerber gave up a weak goal to Petersen.
With the Senators on the power play, Jere Lehtinen ran Alfredsson into the boards near centre ice and the captain lay on the ice in obvious pain and required assistance to get to his feet. He left the game with an upper body injury and will be re-evaluated Sunday.
The Senators did manage to make something of the power play as Spezza tied the game beating Turco at the side of the net.
Ottawa took the lead in the opening minutes of the third period with its third power-play goal of the game as Picard beat a screened Turco.
Erikkson tied the game with just over five minutes remaining as he beat Gerber after a scramble at the front of the net.
Notes: The Senators were without RW Dean McAmmond (flu, indefinite), RW Jesse Winchester (lower body, day-to-day), D Christoph Schubert was a healthy scratch. ... The Stars Jere Lehtinen returned to the lineup for the first time after missing the last 14 games with a groin injury. Lehtinen has only played four games this season. ... Dallas was without LW Brenden Morrow (torn ACL, indefinite) and D Sergei Zubov (hip, indefinite). D Nicklas Grossman, C Brian Sutherby and C Joel Lundqvist were a healthy scratches.