OTTAWA — With their own playoff hopes long gone the Ottawa Senators are taking great satisfaction making life harder for those still fighting for a spot.
Mike Hoffman's 22nd goal of the season helped the Senators played spoiler to the Dallas Stars with a 3-2 overtime win on Friday. The victory allowed Ottawa to win three straight for just the second time this season and was the Senators first on home ice since Feb. 17.
"We're showing what kind of team we really are in here," said Matt Duchene, who also scored. "It's too bad it's so late in the season and we couldn't have done this a little earlier, but it wasn't for lack of trying. We want to go into the summer on a high note and we're on our way."
Marian Gaborik also scored for the Senators (26-33-11), while Craig Anderson made 23 saves.
Tyler Seguin and Tyler Pitlick scored in regulation for the Stars (38-26-8). Ben Bishop, who stopped 22 shots, made his first start since missing five games with a knee injury suffered March 5 against the Senators. Bishop has a 9-0-4 career record against Ottawa.
Dallas is now winless in four games, its longest skid of the season. The Stars currently hold the last Wild Card in the Western Conference, but are in a tight race with Anaheim and Calgary who are still battling to get in.
"It's very disappointing," said Pitlick. "Every point is important right now."
Stars coach Ken Hitchcock chose to look at the single point in a more favourable light.
"This is a great point," said Hitchcock. "To come back and we got nothing left in the tank and we keep pushing. This is a good point. The (6-5 overtime loss on Wednesday) in Toronto was tough, it's really tough, but this is a great point. Ottawa has a lot of skill and a lot of speed and they put us to the test and to come back and get a point in this game after we almost gave it away is good. We move on."
The Stars did themselves no favours in the third.
The Senators started the period on the power play and took advantage as Gaborik scored his 10th of the season, a one-timer, off some solid work from Thomas Chabot and Ryan Dzingel to tie the game 1-1.
"We've done a good job staying strong mentally," said Ottawa coach Guy Boucher. "We don't score the first goal and we're still winning the game, we've had a few of those lately and I think our players are looking really good, but I've been saying it for a long time and now we're getting some results."
The Stars didn't register their first shot until the 16th minute of the period, but shortly after the Senators took a 2-1 lead on Duchene's goal.
Duchene took the puck on his backhand, moved it to his forehand and beat Bishop high from in close, but just over a minute later the Stars tied the game 2-2 as Pitlick put the puck past Anderson.
Neither team seemed to be able to get much going in the second.
Pitlick took a late double minor for high sticking Senators defenceman Ben Harpur with just under one minute left in the second to set up Ottawa for a three-minute man advantage to open the third.
The Stars opened the scoring midway through the first on the power play as some good passing led to Jamie Benn feeding Seguin for a one-timer for his 38th of the season, a career high.
The Senators had their chances, but hit the post three times, twice on the same power play.
Benn had a strange moment late in the game when he fell on Erik Karlsson's stick and wouldn't let it go and then took it to the Stars bench. He later asked Karlsson if he could have it and the Senators captain gladly gave it up.
"I'll gladly give a good player that stick," said Karlsson, who admitted he'd never had anyone ask him for a stick during a game.
Notes: Ottawa's Mark Stone missed his third straight game with a leg injury. Stars D Marc Methot missed his second straight game with a hand injury. The former Senator and Ottawa native was set to play his first game since being lost in the expansion draft to the Las Vegas Knights and was later traded to Dallas.