Spezza returns to Ottawa as Stars battle Sens

(SportsNetwork.com) - Jason Spezza makes his first return trip to Ottawa in a Dallas Stars sweater on Thursday night as his new club takes on the Senators hoping to avoid a third straight loss.

The 31-year-old Spezza was the second overall pick by the Senators franchise in 2001 and he compiled 687 points (251 goals, 436 assists) over 686 games and 11 seasons with the club.

Spezza served as Ottawa's captain last season, but requested a trade last spring and was dealt to Dallas on July 1 along with prospect Ludwig Karlsson, while Ottawa received forwards Alex Chiasson, Alex Guptill, Nicolas Paul and a second-round pick in 2015.

In his first season with the Stars, Spezza has posted eight goals and 27 assists while ranking third on the club with 35 points. He inked a four-year extension with Dallas in November.

"It felt to be good back on the ice. This day has been circled on my calendar, so it's nice to have it now and to get it over with (Thursday)," Spezza said on Dallas' website. "It didn't feel different. It brought back some memories, but (Thursday) is when it will be different being on the other side."

It won't be Spezza's first time facing the Senators since the trade as the Stars picked up a 5-4 home victory over Ottawa on Jan. 13. The Sens led 3-1 after the first period, but the Stars netted four goals in the second frame.

Spezza did not record a point in Dallas' sixth straight victory over Ottawa.

The Stars have lost seven of their past 10 (3-5-2) overall as they came out of the All-Star break with a 3-2 setback on Tuesday to the Montreal Canadiens, who got 40 saves from Carey Price.

Jamie Benn scored for Dallas and assisted on a goal by Patrick Eaves, who returned to the lineup after missing 21 straight with a broken foot. Kari Lehtonen made 23 saves.

"We had a lot of shots, and the opportunities were there," Seguin said. "Carey made some great saves tonight. He's one of the best goalies in the league."

Forwards Erik Cole and Brett Ritchie both missed the game with injuries, but practiced on Wednesday and are questionable to return tonight.

Lehtonen, meanwhile, is 8-5-0 lifetime versus the Senators with a 2.86 goals against average and .909 save percentage in 16 games (13 meetings).

Ottawa has been out of action since last Wednesday's 4-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Sens had lost three of four going in, but got a pair of goals from defenseman Erik Karlsson.

Mike Hoffman posted a goal and an assist as he is tied for the NHL lead among rookies with 16 goals, while Mika Zibanejad also lit the lamp.

Craig Anderson made 37 saves in the win.

"It was a big win for us," said Anderson. "We make sure the fans get everything they pay for when we make it close at the end."

Robin Lehner is expected to get the start tonight and he is winless versus the Stars, going 0-2-1 with a 3.98 GAA and .893 save percentage in three games with two starts.