Smith propels Senators past Stars in overtime

OTTAWA (Ticker) — Veteran defenseman Jason Smith netted his
first goal of the season with 90 seconds remaining in overtime
to help the Ottawa Senators edge the Dallas Stars, 5-4, on

Captain Daniel Alfredsson, Antoine Vermette and Jason Spezza all
tallied in regulation and defenseman Alexandre Picard snapped a
3-3 tie with the man advantage 96 seconds into the third period
for the Senators, who had lost five of six.

Blue-liner Matt Niskanen, Brad Richards and Toby Petersen each
scored for the Stars before Loui Eriksson notched his sixth goal
in three games to tie the game at 4-4 with 5:34 left in the

“At least we got one point, but we need all the points we can
get,” Eriksson said. “Two points for us is a must right now.
We didn’t get it, so it’s disappointing.”

Signed in the offseason as a free agent to act as a replacement
for the departed Wade Redden, Smith enabled the Senators to
avoid a losing streak of three games or more for the fourth time
this season.

“I don’t score very many,” Smith said. “But obviously it’s nice
to score a goal to help the guys get a big win.”

Smith took a pass from across the slot from Mike Fisher and
fired a slap shot from the right faceoff circle past Marty Turco
to end a two-game skid.

“It was an unfortunate one there, but that’s the way it goes
some nights,” Turco said. “As a team we’ve been making good
strides in the right direction. Our defense hasn’t been the
most consistent part of our game.”

Dany Heatley was credited with the other assist and notched his
500th career point.

“It’s all right to give Heatley the puck,” Smith said. “Five
hundred points is pretty special. I was just happy.”

Heatley was happier about getting the victory, though.

“No doubt we couldn’t predict that Jason would get the winner.
It was a great team effort tonight,” Heatley said. “We really
had to grind it out. It’s a good number (500), obviously very
positive. It took me five or six games to do it, so I’m glad
it’s finally over.”

Ottawa took a 4-3 lead early in the third when Picard unleashed
a hard slap shot from the top of the slot, but Eriksson later
forced the extra session with his team-leading and career-high
18th tally of the season.

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Petersen gave Dallas a 3-2 lead midway through the second, but
the resilient Senators knotted the game when Spezza converted
passes from defenseman Filip Kuba and netminder Martin Gerber
two minutes later.

“There’s lots of confidence inside the room,” Smith said. “This
game should helps us turn things around and head into the right
direction. If we come out like this every night, the results
will be positive.”

Vermette registered his third goal of the season 3:52 into the
session and Richards capitalized with the man advantage two
minutes before Petersen struck.

“It’s frustrating,” Richards said. “We gave up five goals.
It’s tough to score six or seven every night. You know that’s
not going to happen every time. Allowing three goals on the
penalty kill shows we lost the special teams battle.

“I guess you can take one positive out of this game and that is
we scored five goals. I believe with the start we had in the
first period, we should have ended with a better result.”

Niskanen pulled Dallas even at 1-1 with 51 seconds left in the
first after Ottawa got on the board, thanks to a goal from
Alfredsson, who left midway through the period with an
undisclosed injury.

Alfredsson attempted to gain possession of a loose puck along
the left boards, but suffered the injury after being checked by
Dallas’ Jere Lehtinen. Alfredsson was helped off the ice in
obvious pain and did not return.

“It’s in the upper body,” Alfredsson said. “We’ll come in
tomorrow and evaluate it then. I don’t think it’s serious.”

Ottawa coach Craig Hartsburg was extremely receptive of his
team’s prowess without their star right wing.

“It was as physical we’ve ever played after (Alfredsson’s
injury) and it was one of our strong spots in the game,”
Hartsburg said. “The win right now is huge, obviously. The way
it happened, the emotions we played with, was obviously a
constant we need every night.”

Gerber finished with 25 saves.