OTTAWA â€” Senators defenceman Dion Phaneuf wanted a big performance after his team dropped back-to-back games by a combined 10 goals. Thursday night he led by example in Ottawa’s 3-2 win over the Dallas Stars.
Phaneuf was a force as he scored the opening goal, fought with Stars captain Jamie Benn and seemed determined to get the Senators back on track.
“He really set the tone for a character game,” said Senators coach Guy Boucher. “I think he was the big leader.”
Phaneuf was celebrating the anniversary of his trade from the Toronto Maple Leafs to the Senators one year ago and the significance clearly wasn’t lost on the 31-year-old.
“The bottom line is there’s a relief that we continued to stick with (the game plan) and we found a way to win,” said Phaneuf.
“We did not feel very good about ourselves after the last game, that goes without saying, and we found a way to respond. We did a great job. Every guy through and through.”
Mark Stone and Chris Kelly also scored for the Senators (28-18-6) as Mike Condon made 31 saves.
Antoine Roussel and Benn scored for the Stars (21-24-10), who are on a four-game losing streak. Kari Lehtonen made 24 saves.
The Stars were visibly deflated by the loss, especially considering Jiri Hudler scored on his own net in the first period to give Ottawa a 2-0 lead.
“I think we’ve picked almost every way of losing so far including shooting one on your own net,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “It is frustrating. We battled hard in the secondâ€¦but at the end we just couldn’t quite push through.”
Tied 2-2, Stone scored his team-leading 19th at the six-minute mark of the third as he grabbed the puck behind the net and beat Lehtonen on the wraparound in front of 17,676 at Canadian Tire Centre.
“It was a huge win,” said Stone. “Maybe not our best game we’ve played all year, but able to find a way and that’s what good teams do.”
The Stars managed to come back and tie the game in the second after falling behind two goals.
Roussel got the Stars in the game midway through the period as he took a pass from Radek Faksa for the easy tap in from the side of the net. Benn tied the game with under four minutes remaining in the period as he was able to get a shot through traffic from just inside the blue line.
“We’re a proud team, we play with speed, character and we try to show it every night,” said Roussel. “Meanwhile it doesn’t work our way every time and it just seems to be like that lately.”
Despite being outshot 12-6 the Senators held a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes.
Phaneuf scored shorthanded to open the scoring at the 14-minute mark, but it was Kelly’s goal that caught everyone on the ice off guard. Kelly got credit for the goal, despite being on the bench, as Hudler put the puck in his own net during a delayed penalty call while defencemen Dan Hamhuis and John Klingberg watched in horror unable to get to the puck.
“I remember kind of touching the puck before I went off and then went off and saw we had a penalty and I remember the player throwing it back and I thought the defenceman was going to get it and he quickly realized it was just out of his reach,” said Kelly.
Notes: C Curtis Lazar and RW Chris Neil were healthy scratches. Thursday’s game marked the one-year anniversary of Dion Phaneuf being traded from Toronto to Ottawa. The Stars D Julius Honka and LW Curtis McKenzie were healthy scratches. Former Senators C Jason Spezza (upper body) and Ales Hemsky (hip) were unavailable for the Stars.
Lisa Wallace, The Canadian Press