Smith made 29 saves and the Stars beat Columbus 3-1, snapping the Blue Jackets' four-game winning streak.
Smith, Marty Turco's backup, hadn't played in five of six games. He kept the Stars afloat in the second period when the Blue Jackets dominated with a 14-2 shots advantage but scored only once.
Smith was able to keep sharp in practice.
"I told myself to treat practice like a game, and that rubbed off on this game," Smith said. "Sometimes you have to find a way to win games. Sometimes you need your goaltending to be the difference."
Columbus finished with a 30-14 shots edge, matching the fewest shots allowed in Blue Jackets history.
"He hadn't been in there a lot and we put a lot on his shoulders," Stars captain Brenden Morrow said of Smith. "They have a lot of good offensive guys but he was good for us."
Smith, who had lost his three previous decisions, earned his first win since Dec. 29 against St. Louis.
"It's been a long time since I got in the win column, so I was just battling and trying to make saves," Smith said. "Fortunately, we got a couple of goals."
Dallas has won all three meetings with Columbus this season, the first two in shootouts. The teams will play for the fourth and final time Tuesday in Dallas.
Blue Jackets coach Ken Hitchcock, who coached the Stars to the 1999 Stanley Cup title, thought his team had an advantage because Dallas returned Friday from a West Coast road trip.
But Nikolai Zherdev notched the only goal for Columbus, making the second stop of a five-game road trip.
"We had them on the bend, but they wouldn't break," Hitchcock said. "We had a team on the end of a west-to-east turnaround, which is hard. This was a very winnable game against an opponent that had travel issues. That's two points we should have had against a team that had no energy."
Fredrik Modin, playing for the first time after missing 35 games due to a back injury, nearly scored with 8:58 left when Smith appeared to carry the puck over the goal line with his glove. A video review was inconclusive, and officials ruled no goal.
That was as close as the Blue Jackets would come to beating Smith in the final period.
"I thought we outplayed them, but we didn't close," Columbus' top scorer, Rick Nash, said. "We have to close better."
Morrow gave Dallas a 1-0 lead 12:43 into the game on the Stars' second shot. He scored his 17th of the season from the slot off Antti Miettinen's setup from behind the net.
Dallas carried a 2-1 advantage into the third period despite Columbus' 20-6 shots edge.
The Blue Jackets recorded the first eight shots of the second period, but Dallas capitalized with Barnes' seventh goal for a 2-0 lead.
The Blue Jackets cut the deficit to 2-1 with 11.4 seconds remaining in the second period on Zherdev's power-play goal from the left circle, his 20th of the season.
Ott's fifth goal from low in the left circle at 8:54 of the third period stretched Dallas' lead to 3-1.
- Dallas opened a four-game homestand after a 2-2-1 road trip.
- The Stars were without four key players: D Sergei Zubov (foot), RW Jere Lehtinen (abdominal injury), D Philippe Boucher (shoulder) and LW Jussi Jokinen (leg). Zubov has been ruled out of Sunday's home game against Anaheim and will have an MRI on Monday.
- D Ole-Kristian Tollefsen returned for the Blue Jackets after missing eight games with a neck injury.
- C Andrew Murray (head) is out for Columbus.
- Dallas RW B.J. Crombeen made his NHL debut and got into a fight with Columbus' Jared Boll at 3:18 of the third.