Dion Phaneuf was looking for a big performance after his team dropped back-to-back games by a combined 10 goals. He led by example in the Ottawa Senators’ 3-2 win over the Dallas Stars on Thursday night.
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,” Senators coach Guy Boucher said. “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 defenseman.
“The bottom line is there’s a relief that we continued to stick with (the game plan) and we found a way to win,” Phaneuf said. “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, and Mike Condon made 31 saves.
Antoine Roussel and Benn scored for the Stars, 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 into 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,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. “It is frustrating. We battled hard in the second, but at the end, we just couldn’t quite push through.”
With the game tied at 2, Stone scored his team-leading 19th goal at the six-minute mark of the third when 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,” Stone said. “Maybe not our best game we’ve played all year, but able to find a way and that’s what good teams do.”
Dallas fell behind 2-0 in the first period, but Roussel got the Stars in the game midway through the second period when he took a pass from Radek Faksa for the easy tap-in from the side of the net.
Benn tied it 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,” Roussel said. “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 short-handed to open the scoring at the 14-minute mark. Kelly got credit for the second goal after the Stars’ Jiri Hudler put the puck in his own net during a delayed penalty call as defensemen Dan Hamhuis and John Klingberg watched helplessly, 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,” Kelly said, “and I remember the player throwing it back and I thought the defenseman was going to get it and he quickly realized it was just out of his reach.”
NOTES: Senators C Curtis Lazar and RW Chris Neil were healthy scratches. … Thursday’s game marked the one-year anniversary of Phaneuf being traded from Toronto to Ottawa. … Stars D Julius Honka and LW Curtis McKenzie were healthy scratches. Former Senators C Jason Spezza (upper body) and Ales Hemsky (hip) were also unavailable for the Stars.
Stars: host Carolina on Saturday.
Senators: host New York Islanders on Saturday.
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