Stars coach Lindy Ruff said he wanted to see some other guys chip in with goals, and he got his wish Sunday. Three Stars scored their first goals of the season as the Stars won 4-3 in a shootout over the Ottawa Senators Sunday afternoon at Canadian Tire Centre.
Still, there were ups and downs in the game for the Stars, who squandered a 2-0 lead and then surrendered a goal with 9.3 seconds left in regulation that sent the game to overtime.
“"We're going to have to learn how to win. Again, we made it tough on ourselves,” Ruff said. “We’re going to have to fix a few of those mistakes that we made and get a greater understanding of when you are up 2-0 in a game what kind of opportunities you want to give up.”
“It’s obviously big to get those two (points) and start our road trip off on the right foot,” Stars captain Jamie Benn said. “It wasn’t an easy two points, we didn’t help ourselves out too much. We gave up some plays, but we found a way to win in the shootout.”
Ruff juggled his lines going into Sunday’s game and he got goals from three different lines as Ray Whitney, Valeri Nichushkin and Antoine Roussel scored in regulation. Jamie Benn scored the lone goal of the shootout for the Stars, who improved to 6-6-2 on the season. Kari Lehtonen made 33 saves in regulation and overtime, and stopped all three shots he faced in the shootout.
“I had a rough shootout the last time, maybe a week ago, and I really wanted to be a little bit more patient,” said Lehtonen, who improved to 5-2-2 on the season. “We had a pretty good game plan, watching the things they like to do and today it worked.”
The Senators lost goaltender Craig Anderson in overtime when he was hit in the head as Nichushkin drove the net. Anderson was immobilized and taken off the ice on a stretcher with 3:16 left in the extra period. The Senators said Anderson had a stiff neck, would be evaluated Monday and was unlikely to play Tuesday.
"Everything else seems to be fine," Senators coach Paul MacLean said.
The Stars, playing the first of a three game road trip, outshot the Senators 19-9 in the first period and scored the lone goal to take a 1-0 lead into the first intermission.
Whitney scored his first goal of the season, beating Anderson short side from the right circle off the rush with 2:57 left in the period.
Lehtonen came up with a big stop on a close range bid by Zack Smith 18 seconds into the second period and at the 30 second mark Nichushkin scored his first NHL goal off the rush to put the Stars up 2-0.
The Stars went on a four minute power play two minutes later, but the Senators were able to kill it off and less than a minute after they did defenseman Erik Karlsson scored on a three-on-one rush to cut the Dallas lead to 2-1 at 7:41 of the second.
“We had a (power play) for four minutes, didn’t create much offense and gave them momentum,” Stars defenseman Sergei Gonchar said.
“We just gave up a two-on-one on the power play and then we gave up a three-on-one right after that,” said Ruff. “It wasn’t from lack of trying, but our smarts weren’t good enough.”
The Senators went on their third power play of the afternoon late in the second and scored to tie the game at 2-2. Jason Spezza knocked home a Kyle Turris shot that was blocked and then rebounded off the end boards.
The Stars got the lead back early in the third when Ottawa defenseman Mark Borowiecki tried to clear the puck from the front of his goal, but put the puck past Anderson and into the net to give the Stars a 3-2 lead at the 3:11 mark. Roussel, who put the puck on net in the first place, was given credit for the goal.
"It's one of those plays where you can't find the hole to hide in big enough and we told him to shake it off and he did, and he came back and responded,” said Senators forward Bobby Ryan. “You can't really get mad at a guy for that. That's just an honest mistake."
The Senators had a power play chance midway through the third, but couldn’t take advantage. Clarke MacArthur had a great bid with just over four minutes remaining, but fired the puck wide of the net. But the Senators did tie the game with 9.3 seconds left. With Anderson out of the net for an extra attacker, Ryan scored with a blast from the slot that broke his stick.
The overtime was delayed twice, once by a broken pane of glass and then by the injury to Anderson.
In the shootout, Benn beat Robin Lehner, who took over for Anderson in goal, with a wrist shot. Lehtonen stopped Milan Michalek, Spezza and Ryan.
The Stars, who improved to 3-5-0 on the road this season, continue their trip with a game in Boston on Tuesday.
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.