By Stephen Hunt, The Sports Xchange
DALLAS — Viktor Stalberg has played just four games for the Ottawa Senators since coming over from Carolina at the NHL trade deadline, but Stalberg has three points in those games, including a goal and an assist in a 5-2 win against the Dallas Stars on Wednesday at American Airlines Center.
“Felt good from the start; it always helps to get looks early on,” Stalberg said. “You know it fits me pretty well, the systems here — a lot of speed and a lot turnarounds.”
Craig Anderson made 35 saves for Ottawa, who got a goal and an assist each from Cody Ceci and Fredrik Claesson. Jean-Gabriel Pageau, and Chris Wideman also scored for Ottawa (37-22-6), which has won a season-best four straight games. Mike Hoffman added two assists.
Anderson picked up his 146th victory with Ottawa, tying him with Patrick Lalime for most in franchise history.
“It’s a credit to the guys in front for all these years of hard work and dedication, and just a byproduct of guys playing hard in front of me,” Anderson said.
Jason Spezza had a goal and an assist, and Tyler Seguin scored for Dallas (27-30-10), which saw its two-game winning streak snapped.
The Senators broke through with 6:19 remaining in the first period when Wideman scored his fifth goal of the season with Ottawa on the power play. With Lehtonen slow to adjust, Wideman scored into an open net on a wrister from the right circle after receiving a cross-ice pass from Stalberg.
Ottawa doubled its lead 1:50 later when Claesson blistered a slap shot past Lehtonen off a faceoff from the slot. After Zack Smith won the draw with Radek Faksa in the left circle, the puck fell to Claesson, who scored his first goal of the season.
“It feels really good,” Claesson said. “I kind of waited for this moment for a long time. I’m really happy. It was a face-off and I wasn’t sure if (Hoffman) was going to take it or not, so I just hammered an old knuckle puck there.”
With Ottawa leading 2-0 at the first intermission, Pageau made it 3-0 with his eighth goal, 3:21 into the second period — chasing Lehtonen from the game. Pageau one-timed a Tommy Wingels pass through Lehtonen’s five-hole from the slot.
Antti Niemi promptly replaced Lehtonen, who made 15 saves.
“We probably would have wanted a couple more saves,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. “Just made the switch to try to get it going in the other direction.”
Dallas got on the board 1:09 later when Seguin scored his 23rd goal from the left of the Ottawa goal. Seguin one-timed a Spezza pass from behind the visiting net past Anderson’s short side to make it 3-1.
Appearing in his third NHL game, Stars rookie forward Remi Elie picked up the secondary assist for his first career point.
“Remi’s played great,” Spezza said. “I really liked his game. He’s a guy (who) opens up ice. He’s got great speed; he’s tenacious on the puck. He looks like he’s going to be a good piece for us.”
Stalberg made it 4-1 by redirecting a Dion Phaneuf wrister from near the Dallas blue line with 1:51 remaining in the second period, with Ottawa on the power play. The Senators had gone 14:49 between shots before Stalberg’s 11th goal.
Spezza’s 12th goal of the season came 8:04 into the third period when his shot from near the red line deflected in off the right leg of Mark Borowiecki, with Dallas on the power play.
“They won the special teams battle early and they got up,” Spezza said. “They’re a hard team to play from behind (against). It’s unfortunate that this game went like this.”
Ottawa answered 57 seconds later when Ceci scored his second goal of the season. His wrist shot from near the blue line deflected first off Stephen Johns’ stick and then off Niemi’s right skate.
Niemi made three saves in relief of Lehtonen before leaving the ice with 1:31 remaining.
Ottawa concludes the back-to-back Thursday at Arizona.
“When you win games that you don’t love, it’s not necessarily a bad sign either, but we’re going to make sure that we clean up a few things for tomorrow,” Senators coach Guy Boucher said. “It’s going to be real difficult; it’s a back-to-back and we know how tough those are. They’ve been waiting for us.”