Sens fans love Alfie

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:59 AM ET

Maybe it's because it came on the heels of one of the best games in a long time at Scotiabank Place.

Maybe it's because the Senators hadn't played in four days and the Buffalo Sabres have been struggling.

Last night's 3-2 win over the Sabres by the Senators wasn't pretty or particularly entertaining, but it did have a few moments, all pretty much supplied by captain Daniel Alfredsson.

He was playing the 800th game of an unexpected NHL career and scored his 14th and 15th goals of the season to tie for the league lead, helping the Senators run their league-leading record to 15-2.

The best moment of the game might have been the warm standing ovation and chants of "Alfie, Alfie, Alfie!" which rained down after he had made it 1-0 and the 800-game milestone was announced in the first period.

"I never expected that. I really appreciated it," said Alfredsson, who waved to the crowd a couple of times in acknowledgement. "I didn't know how to respond. It's something I'll always remember."

The 133rd pick in the 1994 draft at the urging of the late John Ferguson, he has established himself as the best player to come out of that class, ahead of the likes of top pick Ed Jovanovski, third pick Radek Bonk, sixth pick Ryan Smyth or 12th pick Wade Belak. He was a player who said he would have been happy playing in Sweden and getting a shot at playing for the national team.

Now he is a player his coach consistently lauds as the best all-around player in the NHL.

"I'm happy to have been picked by a Canadian team. It's been a great experience," he said.

"He's just doing everything for us," said centre Mike Fisher, who had two assists. "He wins all his battles. He just leads us out there. I haven't seen him playing this good in a while. He's the big reason our record is what it is."

Alfredsson was pretty much all the Senators needed last night, along with some last-minute goaltending heroics by Martin Gerber, against the sagging Sabres, who are sorely missing former leaders Daniel Briere and Chris Drury, who each left via free agency.

With a 3-1 lead in the third, the Senators' tendency to take penalties let the Sabres back into the game. With Ottawa defencemen Chris Phillips and Andrej Meszaros in the box, Rockland's Derek Roy scored during the 5-on-3 at 11:27 to make it 3-2. The Senators were forced to kill off another 25-second 5-on-3 when Meszaros was joined in the box by centre Chris Kelly.

"Tonight I'd say we were lucky," said Senators coach John Paddock. "(The games) balance out. I'm sure there will be a game where we play well and don't get the points. Buffalo had something to do with it. Gerber saved us to quite an extent."

The chants of "Alfie, Alfie, Alfie!" in the first were quickly muted when Buffalo's Jochen Hecht finally knocked a bouncing puck behind Gerber to tie it at 7:30.

Alfredsson put the Senators back in front to stay with just over a minute to go in the first period and Shean Donovan made it 3-1 at 16:48 of the second. The Senators will be in Toronto tomorrow night to face the Maple Leafs as they start a three-game road trip that will take them to Montreal Monday and Buffalo Wednesday.


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