Stars beat Senators 6-3 in Spezza's return to Ottawa
OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) Jason Spezza's emotional night turned into a winning performance for the Dallas Stars.
Jamie Benn scored two goals, and the Stars beat the Senators 6-3 on Thursday in Spezza's first game in Ottawa since he was traded to Dallas in the offseason.
Spezza made his NHL debut with Ottawa in 2002 and had spent his entire career with the Senators before the trade. The former Senators captain got a standing ovation from the crowd of 18,752 following a video tribute early in the first period.
''I'm happy to have it over,'' Spezza said. ''It's an emotional game. I was really thankful to the Senators organization for having a little tribute to me there and the reception of the fans acknowledgement.
''It was a great chapter of my career being here and for me this gives me a little closing of a chapter and looking forward to the future with the Stars, but the first time (back) was tough. It's emotional coming back.''
John Klingberg, Colton Sceviour, Ales Hemsky and Trevor Daley also scored for Dallas, and Kari Lehtonen made 25 saves.
Mika Zibanejad, Bobby Ryan and Alex Chiasson scored for Ottawa. Robin Lehner, making his first start since January 13th, stopped 35 shots.
''The last few games I've played I work hard and I'm trying to get better and I feel good, but bar in, post in, it hits someone,'' Lehner said. ''It's just not going my way. I don't know, I guess I'll have a long sauna and think about things and who did I hurt to get these bounces. I don't know.
''Obviously, I've got to go back and try to get even better. I've got to find a way.''
The Stars grabbed a 4-3 lead midway through the third period when Klingberg took advantage of an Ottawa turnover to break in alone and beat Lehner with a wrist shot.
With just under a minute remaining in regulation, and Lehner on the bench, the Senators caught a break when Tyler Seguin took a hooking penalty, but a lost faceoff resulted in Daley sending a wrist shot all the way down the ice and into the empty net. Benn added a second empty-net goal to round out the scoring.
With Ottawa trailing 3-2 early in the third, Chiasson took a cross-ice pass from Kyle Turris and tapped it in for his first goal in 17 games.
The Senators got off to a rough start, and then had a much better second period, thanks to some solid goaltending from Lehner.
Lehner made huge saves on Spezza and Patrick Eaves, and got a little help when Seguin rang a shot off the goalpost. The Senators were outshot 16-8 in the second.
Benn opened the scoring with a power-play goal at 7:37 of the first. Less than a minute later Sceviour made it 2-0 when he deflected a shot in front. Hemsky made it 3-0 on the Stars' second power-play goal of the period when he beat Lehner on the glove side.
''I thought our whole game was slow, was sloppy,'' Senators coach Dave Cameron said. ''We were a real easy team to play against so that led to some real quality chances against. It was just one of those games where we got back into it, but we still didn't have the jump.''
Trailing 3-0, Zibanejad got the Senators on the board when he retrieved his own rebound and jammed it in. Ryan, who has 21 points in 20 games, then had a power-play goal at 18:30 of the opening period.
NOTES: Dallas LW Erik Cole remains day to day with a lower body injury. D Jordie Benn and RW Brett Ritchie were healthy scratches. ... G Craig Anderson is day to day with a hand injury and C Zack Smith (wrist) remains sidelined for the Senators.