Published May 02, 2016
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Dallas Stars are hoping their recent success against the Ottawa Senators can get them back on track when the clubs meet Tuesday in Big D.
The Stars enter the opener of a three-game homestand locked in an 0-2-2 slide and the four-game skid comes directly on the heels of a 9-2-0 run from Dec. 6- Jan. 3. The club sits six points out of a playoff spot in the highly competitive Western Conference.
However, Dallas has won five straight and seven of nine over the Senators. Ottawa has dropped three in a row and five of the past six meetings at American Airlines Center.
Tonight marks the first time Stars forward Jason Spezza will face his former team. Spezza compiled 687 points (251 goals, 436 assists) over 11 seasons and 686 games with Ottawa, but he requested a trade from the Sens last spring and was eventually dealt to Dallas on July 1.
Spezza was traded to the Stars along with forward prospect Ludwig Karlsson, while Ottawa received forwards Alex Chiasson, Alex Guptill, Nicolas Paul and a second-round pick in 2015.
The 31-year-old Spezza is third on Dallas this season with 29 points off seven goals and 22 helpers. He signed a four-year extension with the Stars in November, keeping him under contract in Dallas through the 2018-19 season.
"It was nice to catch up. I saw some of the guys yesterday and will catch up with a few more guys today," Spezza said after Monday's practice. "I think it is different when it is on your terms and in your rink. It will be different when I go back to Ottawa."
Spezza and the Stars are scheduled to visit the Senators on Jan. 29.
Dallas may ask for more than usual from Spezza as it may have to face Ottawa tonight without the help of captain Jamie Benn and fellow forwards Vernon Fiddler and Tyler Seguin, who are all questionable for Tuesday. Benn is dealing with an undisclosed injury, while Fiddler left Saturday's loss against Colorado with a lower-body issue. Seguin, meanwhile, was sent home from Monday's practice with an illness.
Seguin is leading Dallas in goals (26) and points (48), while Benn is second in team scoring with 36 points on 12 goals and 24 assists.
The Stars fell 4-3 in Denver on Saturday, as Matt Duchene picked up the deciding goal for the Avalanche early in the third period.
Brett Ritchie, Colton Sceviour and Ales Hemsky scored for the Stars, while Kari Lehtonen stopped 26 shots in defeat.
Lehtonen is expected to start tonight and owns an 8-5-0 record and 2.75 goals against average in 15 career games against the Senators.
Ottawa enters tonight eight points out of a playoff spot in the East, but it was able to halt a three-game slide with Saturday's blowout win in Arizona. Craig Anderson made 31 saves, and the Sens scored five unanswered goals to top the Coyotes, 5-1.
After Mikkel Boedker put the Coyotes on top early in the game, Milan Michalek and Clarke MacArthur scored first-period goals to give the Senators the lead for good.
Ottawa also got goals from Mike Hoffman, Cody Ceci and David Legwand to improve to 1-1-1 on a four-game road trip that ends tonight. The Sens are just 9-11-4 as the guest this season.
"We finally got rewarded for our effort," Senators head coach Dave Cameron said. "It feels good."
Robin Lehner will get the start in net for Ottawa. He is 0-1-1 with a 2.88 GAA in his career against Dallas.
After tonight, the Senators will close January by playing five of six on home ice. Ottawa will begin a brief two-game homestand Thursday against Montreal.