Starter Kari Lehtonen had allowed two goals on five shots before his earliest exit this season. And Ruff said it might be the earliest he has pulled a goalie in 18 seasons as an NHL head coach.
In the second period, the Stars roared back, scoring four goals, two by John Klingberg, and Lindback stopped all 14 Ottawa shots. Dallas turned a two-goal deficit into a two-goal lead and went on to win 5-4.
"It would take quite a bit of thinking to go through all those games, but I don't think I've pulled a goalie that early before," Ruff said. "It worked out. Sometimes you're lucky as a coach."
Lindback said, "Obviously, I didn't think (he'd go in so early). But sometimes a coach will just try to do something to wake your guys up. I'm sure it would have been the same result if (Lehtonen) stayed in there."
Trevor Daley and Erik Cole also scored in the second, which Dallas had entered trailing 3-1 and exited with a 5-3 lead.
Ruff said, "We might have played one of our worst first periods and then played one of our best second periods."
In the third, Lindback gave up a power-play goal but made 15 more saves. He finished with 34 saves and two goals allowed.
Ottawa's Mike Hoffman, Clarke MacArthur and Jared Cowen each scored in the first period. Milan Michalek added a third-period goal.
"Boys played fine. They played good. I didn't," Senators goalie Robin Lehner said. "Difference in the game.
"I feel like I'm in position most of them but I guess it hits me over the pad, far side, right by the post. That's what I'm there for, but man, it's not happening for me."
Senators coach Dave Cameron disagreed.
"We're not going to look at this game and say we lost this game because of Robin Lehner by any means. We didn't. We lost this game as a team effort."
Cole and Ales Hemsky each had a goal and an assist for Dallas.
The Stars' Travis Moen and Alex Goligoski and Ottawa's Mark Stone and Bobby Ryan each had two assists.
Dallas' victory ended a four-game losing streak (0-2-2).
Lehner made 24 saves before being pulled for an extra skater with 1:38 to play.
Hoffman gave the Senators a 1-0 lead 4:57 into the game with his team-leading 15th goal. He skated across the blue line into the right faceoff circle and sent a wrist shot past Lehtonen to the left side of the net.
MacArthur's power-play goal at 10:30 from almost the same spot hit the left goalpost and went in. That knocked Lehtonen from the game.
Dallas came back within a goal when Hemsky's slap shot from the right circle at 16:08 beat Lehner.
Jared Cowen's rebound goal at 17:55 against Lindback put the Senators ahead 3-1 going to the second period.
The Stars tied the game at 3 on second-period goals by Trevor Daley at 2:38 and Klingberg at 8:42.
Cole's tip-in goal at 17:19 provided Dallas its first lead, and Klingberg scored again on assists from Hemsky and Cole with 9 seconds remaining in the second.
Michalek scored on the power play at 6:00 of the third, on the second rebound after a shot by Ryan.
NOTES: Dallas C Vernon Fiddler (lower-body injury) did not play for the first time since March 10, 2014. ... Daley's goal was his career-high 10th. ... Hemsky, a former Senator, has goals in three of his last four games. ... RW Alex Chiasson, sent from Dallas to Ottawa in a trade for C Jason Spezza, scored his first point in 12 games when he assisted on Michalek's goal. ... The Senators have lost their last four games in Dallas dating to Dec. 7, 2007. ... Ottawa finished a four-game road trip 1-2-1.