The Ottawa Senators beat the NHL's best team Friday night thanks to the stellar goaltending of Damian Rhodes.
Rookie Marian Hossa scored the tiebreaking goal late in the second period and Rhodes stopped 31 shots to send the Senators to a 2-1 victory against the Dallas Stars in a matchup of conference leaders.
"We knew it would be a big test against a great team," said Rhodes, who withstood a third-period barrage to push his record to 20-12-4. "But we weren't overexcited. We wanted to show we could beat a team like that and show that we're a team to be reckoned with."
Hossa solidified his Calder Trophy credentials, converting Steve Martins' centering pass for his 11th goal with 5:46 left in the second period.
Darryl Sydor returned from a five-game absence because of a sprained knee and notched the only goal for the Western Conference-leading Stars, whose 96 points are still best in the league.
Dallas had an apparent tying goal by Tony Hrkac disallowed on replay with 8:16 to play. Officials determined that the Ottawa goal was tilted off its standard before Hrkac fired the puck into the net, while the Stars contended that the cage was knocked loose by Rhodes.
Rhodes feared the goal would count after he and teammate Igor Kravchuk accidentally crashed into the net, dislodging it.
"It was an accident, but I figured it would be a goal because we're in Dallas," Rhodes said. "I was pretty happy when they said it was no goal."
Referee Paul Devorski said he did not allow the goal because the net wasn't intentionally knocked off its standard.
"If it was deliberate, we could have awarded a goal," Devorski said.
The Stars held a 13-1 shots advantage in the third period but were unable to beat Rhodes.
Dallas was on a power play for the game's final 28.6 seconds when Ottawa's Shaun Van Allen received a delay of game penalty for closing hi hand on the puck. Dallas also had an extra attacker on the ice for goalie Ed Belfour, but the Stars were unable to send the game into overtime.
Stars right wing Brett Hull returned to the lineup after missing 11 straight games with a hamstring injury but didn't figure in the scoring.
Andreas Dackell also scored for Ottawa, atop the Eastern Conference with 87 points.
The Senators looked at the game as a measuring stick as to how far they've come.
"We wanted to see where we were," Ottawa coach Jacques Martin said. "They have more experience and we're learning as we go. What won the game for us was outstanding goaltending."
The Stars are winless in their last four games (0-2-2), their longest streak without a victory this season. Dallas lost consecutive games for only the third time this season and has scored only five goals in the last four games.
"The game lived up to its billing," Stars coach Ken Hitchcock said. "Both their goals were the result of checking mistakes on our part. I thought we played well defensively but we're having trouble scoring."
Sydor gave Dallas a 1-0 lead at 7:16 of the first period with his 13th goal, deflecting Mike Modano's shot by Rhodes while the Stars were on a power play.
Ottawa tied it at 1 with 19.8 seconds left in the first period when Dackell's centering pass hit Sydor and got past Belfour for Dackell's 10th goal.
Hossa gave the Senators a 2-1 advantage with 5:46 left in the second period with his 11th goal, converting Steve Martins' centering pass.
Stars defenseman Richard Matvichuk suffered a sprained knee in the first period and did not return.
The Senators were without right wing Daniel Alfredsson, a pregame scratch due to a slight abdominal strain.
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