OTTAWA – Daniel Alfredsson had a little extra jump in his step Saturday night as the league-leading Detroit Red Wings were in town to face his Ottawa Senators. That extra jump came in handy.
Alfredsson scored twice, including the game winner with 2:56 to play in regulation, to lead the Senators to a tough 3-2 victory in front of 20,208 fans at Scotiabank Place.
“We knew of their record coming in and they’ve got lots of players who are fun to watch and are very good defensively, so that got us ready. We really respected their team and I thought we played our best game in a while,” Alfredsson said.
“I felt good. I was able to get to the puck a lot and I felt comfortable with it. We were able to get some chances and it was fun to play.”
Alfredsson darted in from the point and fired a rebound past ex-Senator Dominik Hasek for the go-ahead goal. It was the second power play goal of the game for the Senators, both were courtesy of Alfredsson. The Red Wings hadn’t allowed a power play goal in their previous nine games.
“We knew their special teams were very good and for us to score two goals against that PK is pretty good. It’s big for us to score on the power play because we think we should be a better power play team,” Alfredsson said.
Mike Fisher had the other goal for the Senators (29-10-4), who now trail the Red Wings (33-9-4) by just eight points for first-place overall in the NHL standings.
After blowing a 2-0 third period lead to the Buffalo Sabres two nights earlier, the Senators found themselves in the same situation Saturday night.
Brian Rafalski and Jiri Hudler both beat Senators netminder Ray Emery in the third period to tie the game. Unlike Thursday when the Senators needed a shootout for a 3-2 win, they got it done in regulation Saturday.
Alfredsson scored in the first and Fisher in the second to provide the Senators with that two-goal cushion after two periods.
With six minutes to play in a 2-2 tie, Hasek made a sprawling save on Fisher who was in alone following a two-on-one. He couldn’t stop a rebound by Alfredsson three minutes later though as Nicklas Lidstrom sat in the penalty box for holding.
It only took the Senators 69 seconds to get one past Hasek as Alfredsson fired a low point shot past the stick side of Hasek for a 1-0 lead.
That was the only goal until 3:26 of the second period when Fisher increased the lead to 2-0. Fisher took a pass from Luke Richardson, split the Detroit defence and fired a shot from the slot that Hasek stopped, but the rebound fell to his feet and Fisher poked it in as he skated past the net.
“We didn’t have much speed in the first two periods and they did a good job on the forecheck and on the backside pressure,” said Red Wings coach Mike Babcock.
“I thought in the third period we got it going and it’s obviously unfortunate we weren’t able to come all the way back.”
The Senators lost Dany Heatley for most of the third period when he crashed hard into the end boards with Red Wings winger Dallas Drake. Heatley was slouched over when he left the ice and was favouring his shoulder and he didn’t return. The Senators said he had an upper body injury but wouldn’t speculate beyond that.
“When you lose one of your better players partway through the game you’re never happy about it, but you just can’t think about it,” said Jason Spezza, who has been Heatley’s linemate since Heatley joined the Senators for the 2005-06 season.
“You have to stay focused and (Randy Robitaille) did a good job of coming in with me and Alfie and we made some good plays and the big power play goal at the end was nice.”
Notes: The Senators are the only team who hasn’t allowed a shorthanded goal this season Alfredsson and Fisher each extended their point streaks to nine games.