November 11, 2007
Follow the leader'Best captain in the NHL' sparks Sens with speech, two goals in third period
By BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA
His actions spoke even louder than captain Daniel Alfredsson's words yesterday.
Unhappy with the way the Senators were performing, Alfredsson stood up in the dressing room after 20 minutes and let everybody know how he felt.
Then, with the Senators down 1-0 in this matinee thriller in front of 20,065 spectators, Alfredsson tied it with 5:10 left on the clock, then salted it away into an empty net after Chris Neil scored the winner at 16:30 in a 3-1 Ottawa victory.
"Alfie stood up between the first and second period and said a couple of things to get us fired up," said Neil, with a toothy grin. "He just went over a couple of things that he thought we had to be better at. That's why he's one of the best players in the league.
"He notices stuff out there and he was able to help us adapt and make changes. He leads by example. He's the hardest working player by far on both teams. That says a lot about the way he leads in this dressing room.
"He may not say a lot, but when he does guys listen. That's why he's the best captain in the NHL."
Nobody worked harder than Alfredsson, who was the club's best player in the playoffs last spring, and has picked up right where he left off.
Coach John Paddock shortened his bench to get some offence which meant Alfredsson (26:40) and winger Dany Heatley (26:46) both had season highs in minutes.
"I thought I had this discussion a couple of weeks ago about who the best all-around player in the league was: (Alfredsson) is," said Paddock. "He is. Sidney Crosby is the best player and nobody is ever going to argue that at this stage, but I believe Alfie is the best all-around player in the game. He does everything. He kills penalties. He plays in every situation. That's just what he is."
Alfredsson said it was nice to hear the compliments, but he was more concerned about getting the two points. Coming off a poor outing in a 4-1 loss to the Washington Capitals Thursday, the Senators hadn't lost back-to-back games in regulation since last December.
"You could this was two top teams playing each other and it was just nice for us to come out on top," said Alfredsson.
OLD TIME HOCKEY
Officials Wes McCauley and Dave Jackson let a lot go, but who cares? It was old-time hockey -- lots of scoring chances with great goaltending. Many wondered if the Senators were going to ever solve Montreal netminder Cristobal Huet, who stopped everything through two periods -- including a pad stop on an Alfredsson (who was hauled down by Patrice Brisebois) penalty shot at 10:53 of the second.
Martin Gerber maintained his hold on the No. 1 goalie job. He did get fortunate when Saku Koivu hit the post on a breakaway in the third.
"He was just solid," said Heatley.
So were the rest of the Senators.