Stars rookie defenseman John Klingberg took some responsibility for Ottawa scoring the game-tying goal early in the third period, and then he made up for it in a big way. Klingberg scored a highlight reel goal off the rush that held up as the game-winner as the Stars defeated the Senators, 6-3, at Canadian Tire Centre Thursday night.
“It obviously felt good,” said the 22-year-old Klingberg. “The third [Ottawa] goal was my guy behind me, so [scoring that goal] obviously felt good.”
Klingberg poked the puck away from a falling Senators forward Mike Hoffman at the Dallas blue line and tracked the puck down along the right wing. He then cut in on goal and put the puck over the shoulder of Ottawa goaltender Robin Lehner from a sharp angle to give Dallas a 4-3 lead with 9:09 left in the game.
“He’s an impressive kid,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “That was one heck of a goal he scored. You have to have a special talent to pull that off. He has scored some special goals for us. For a kid that has played 35 games in this league, it was pretty impressive.”
The Stars had another big night in the shots on goal department, registering 41 in Thursday’s game. The difference between this game and some of their recent losses in which they put a lot of shots on goal is that they found the back of the net on this night. The Stars scored three times in less than five minutes to take a 3-0 first period lead. But the Senators battled back to tie before Klingberg’s tally gave Dallas the lead for good.
“Actually, I thought we played better in Montreal (3-2 loss on Tuesday) than we did here,” Ruff said. “In that Montreal game we gave up very little and we created a lot. Tonight, I didn’t like the mistakes we made when the game was 3-0. They won a puck battle on a faceoff; they won a puck battle inside the blue line. When you are winning 3-0 those are battles you have to win. Tonight, we found a way to win. The other night we deserved to win and didn’t. Not that we didn’t deserve tonight.”
The Stars scored twice on the power play and scored two shorthanded empty-net goals in the final minute of the game to seal the victory. Jamie Benn scored two goals, Trevor Daley had one goal and two assists and Klingberg and Colton Sceviour both had one goal and one assist. Ales Hemsky also scored one goal. Kari Lehtonen stopped 25 of 28 shots.
The victory snapped a two-game losing streak for the Stars, who improved to 22-19-7. They also got a win for center Jason Spezza, who was playing his first game in Ottawa since being traded to Dallas from the Senators during the offseason.
“The first time was tough. It was emotional coming back,” said Spezza. “I’ve been a little distracted the last day or two, but the guys did a great job keeping me loose before the game and having a good time with it. I appreciate them playing as well as they did to get the win.”
The Senators, who were playing their first game since the All-Star break, lost for the seventh time in their past ten games (3-5-2) and fell to 19-19-9 on the season.
“We did expect to be a little sluggish to start coming off an eight-day break, but no excuses. We shouldn’t be that sluggish,” Senators coach Dave Cameron said. “I thought our whole game was slow, sloppy. We were a real easy team to play against tonight.”
Dallas ripped off three unanswered goals – two on the power play – in a 4:21 span of the first period to take a 3-0 lead. The Stars scored on their first power play chance when Klingberg set up Benn, who scored from close range at the 7:37 mark. The Stars scored again 59 seconds later to make it a 2-0 game. After a nice rush into the offensive zone by Daley, Sceviour tipped in a Vernon Fiddler shot 8:36 into the game. The Stars made it 3-0 with another power play goal when Hemsky scored off a blast from just beyond the top of the right circle at the 11:58 mark.
“We knew it was their first game back from the break, and we wanted to try to jump them quick,” Daley said. “I felt we did a good job, but then we didn’t put it down on them.”
Ottawa answered late in the first with a pair of goals to make it a 3-2 game. Mika Zibanejad backhanded a rebound into the net at the 16:02 mark. The Senators then scored on a power play at the 18:30 mark when Cody Ceci put a shot on goal, the puck got behind Lehtonen and Bobby Ryan put it in the net to cut the Dallas lead to one at the first intermission.
The second period was wide open with a lot of chances but no goals. Both goaltenders came up with big saves. Lehtonen stopped a Milan Michalek shorthanded breakaway and a Zibanejad shot from the slot. Lehner had big saves on point-blank bids by Spezza and Tyler Seguin. Seguin also hit a post with a backhand shot.
The Senators tied it at 2:45 of the third period with a goal off the rush. Kyle Turris sent the puck to the net, where Chiasson got behind Klingberg and redirected the puck past Lehtonen. A little more than eight minutes later Klingberg answered with his spectacular goal.
The Senators went on a power play with just under one minute remaining, but Benn and Daley scored shorthanded empty net goals – both tallied from deep in the Dallas end – to seal the victory for the Stars.
It was a big night for Stars center Jason Spezza, who played his first game in Ottawa since being traded to Dallas from the Senators over the summer. The Senators played a tribute video to Spezza during the first TV timeout, and fans responded with a huge ovation for the Spezza, who played his first 11 NHL seasons for Ottawa.
“I am happy to have it over. It was an emotional game,” Spezza said. “I was really thankful to the Senators organization for having a little tribute for me and the reception of the fans. It was a great chapter of my career being here. For me, it gives me a little bit of a closing of a chapter and I am looking forward to the future with the Stars.”
*The Stars outshot the Senators 41-28.
*The Stars are 2-5-1 when registering 40 or more shots on goal this season.
*The Stars are now 7-12-3 when outshooting their opponent.
*Alex Goligoski led the Stars with five shots on goal.
*The Stars were 2-3 on the power play and are 5-21 (23.8 percent) with the man-advantage over the past five games.
*The Stars were 4-5 on the penalty kill.
*Dallas won 39 of 66 faceoffs (59 percent).
*Cody Eakin won 13 of 20 draws (65 percent). Vernon Fiddler won 5 of 10 (50 percent). Jason Spezza won 5 of 10 (50 percent). Tyler Seguin won 7 of 15 (47 percent).
*Alex Goligoski led the Stars with 23:23 of ice time.
Jamie Benn – Tyler Seguin – Patrick Eaves
Shawn Horcoff – Jason Spezza – Ales Hemsky
Antoine Roussel – Cody Eakin – Ryan Garbutt
Travis Moen – Vernon Fiddler – Colton Sceviour
Alex Goligoski – John Klingberg
David Schlemko – Trevor Daley
Jamie Oleksiak – Jason Demers
Scratched: Jordie Benn
Injured: Erik Cole (upper body), Brett Ritchie (undisclosed), Valeri Nichushkin (hip), Patrik Nemeth (arm)
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.