DALLAS -- The Dallas Stars are making late comebacks a habit. Mike Ribeiro set up a Radek Dvorak goal with 5:34 remaining to tie the game and Eric Nystrom scored with 2:20 left to win it as the Dallas Stars defeated the Ottawa Senators 3-2 at American Airlines Center Thursday night.
“Games are 60 minutes,” said Nystrom, who scored his 9th goal of the season. “They scored one but there was still plenty of time left and we popped a couple of late ones. That’s the character we have on our team. We are never going to give up until that final buzzer goes. We’ve won games like this and this is just another example of it.”
It was the fifth time this season the Stars have rallied to tie a game late and then go on to pick up two points in the game.
“Gully (coach Glen Gulutzan) has been preaching that all year – we have a 60 minute game for a reason,” said Stars forward Steve Ott. “Tonight it took us the full 60, but we got the job done.”
Milan Michalek’s goal off the rebound of a Daniel Alfredsson shot with 8:18 remaining gave the Senators a 2-1 lead. But the Stars bounced back less than three minutes later. Ribeiro skated around the Ottawa zone, moved to the left boards and center the puck to Dvorak, who had just come off the bench, and Dvorak tapped it past Craig Anderson to tie the game.
A couple minutes later the Stars’ third line of Nystrom, Vernon Fiddler and Dvorak pinned the Senators in their own zone, Nystrom came out from behind the goal line and rifled a shot past Anderson for the game-winner.
“That was some shift. We got in there, we got possession. We were working close together and making short little plays, kind of grinding them down,” said Nystrom. “We had a couple of chances, got them running and had a seeing-eye shot that just found the low corner. It feels pretty good.”
Raycroft stopped three shots in the final eleven seconds, including a shot by Alfredsson with one second remaining.
“The most important thing we got from those saves is just that confidence,” said Gulutzan. “He gave it to us in Colorado, a big save with a second left tonight and all that does with our group is lift it a little higher and it lifts him a little higher.”
The Stars answered 2:31 later with a power play goal, their first in nine games. Toby Petersen’s shot from the point was tipped into the point by Ott at the 9:38 mark.
“The power play has been ugly for a long time. It’s been tough and we’ve all been beating ourselves over it,” said Ott. “We want to have success on the power play because it wins you game and loses you games. Petey (Toby Petersen) made a great shot from the point, I got a stick on it and it was finally nice to get back on the right side of the power play.”
For the Senators, it was just their second regulation loss in the last eight games (5-2-1).
“I think it’s just disappointing. When you have the lead in this league, you have to continue to play, have to play hard and make sure you stay committed,” said Senators coach Paul MacLean. “I think it’s part of the learning process for us of how to win games on the road. We can’t take things for granted.”
*The Stars improved to 8-1-1 in games decided by one goal this season. The .850 points percentage in those games is tops in the league.
*The Stars were 1-1 on the penalty kill and improved to 17-18 (94.4%) over the last six games.
*Jake Dowell was the lone healthy scratch for the Stars.
*Thursday night’s attendance was 10,490.