WASHINGTON -- When Daniel Alfredsson scored his 29th goal on Sunday, he equalled his official total from all of last season.
We say "official" total because yesterday, the captain claimed today's technology would have given him another one in Game 82 of the 2006-07 campaign.
"I should have had 30 last year. They stole one," Alfredsson said -- at least pretending (we're never quite sure with him anymore) that the injustice of it all may have cost him a night's sleep -- following yet another standout individual performance at a morning skate. "The last game of the year, they didn't give me the 30th, but I tipped it. I think they gave it to (Jason) Spezza or (Christoph Schubert)."
Did you go to anyone? Did you voice a complaint and try to correct the injustice?
"Yeah, but I guess because the game wasn't in HD, they couldn't tell," said Alfredsson. "I never got it."
Alfredsson did score nine in the nine games leading into this trip to the Verizon Center, putting him on pace to eclipse not only his career-best season (43) but to even pass the 50-goal plateau.
At the rate of production he was on through 44 games, he'd wind up with 53.
"A Swedish magazine called me (yesterday) and asked if I thought I'd get 50," Alfredsson revealed. "I said I didn't think I'd get there, but it would be fun to do it."
Alfredsson, who believes it will be tougher to score as the season winds down and defences tighten, has lit the lamp more often than all but three NHLers (Ilya Kovalchuk, Alex Ovechkin and Jarome Iginla), which isn't bad for a guy who doesn't even consider himself a true marksman.
"Especially lately, I'm skating better, I think," he said. "The puck goes in, it seems lately. That's the way it is for scorers. Sometimes you're streaky.
"Still, I don't really consider myself a goal scorer. I just probably shoot the puck more than I have in the past."
He's going to have to keep firing it at least as much with Dany Heatley out of the lineup for a couple of months.
"I'm going to try and get as many as I can and add them up at the end," said Alfredsson, before conceding 50 is a possibility. "If I get going pretty good, why not? I don't rule it out, but I'd say it's not likely."
The pressure will be on the guys in the replay booth if he's got 49 going into the last game.
STARTS AND STOPS: The Capitals' playoff chances have suffered a huge blow with the loss of first-line centre Michael Nylander, who Monday decided to go ahead with season-ending shoulder surgery. Entering last night's action seven points out of a playoff spot, Washington has decided that -- instead of making a significant trade for a replacement -- to let the chips fall where they may by sticking with the status quo. "We will play with what we have," Caps GM George McPhee said in the press box a half-hour before his team faced the Senators. "We've done well without him in the lineup before. We're not going to trade assets or young players. We will play with what we have." Minus Nylander, who had 37 points in 40 games, you would figure the Caps have a chance to land another pretty impressive young player in the Steven Stamkos sweepstakes ... It looked like a sniper picked off Caps G Brent Johnson the way he lay motionless and face down on the ice after being bumped by Senators W Chris Neil 38 seconds into the first period. Caps coach Bruce Boudreau wanted a penalty, which begs this question: If the belief was Neil ran Johnson on purpose, why did the five Washington players who were on the ice (Matt Bradley, Milan Jurcina, David Steckel, Quintin Laing and Jeff Schultz) all choose to look the other way rather than at least skate over and have a word with No. 25? ... Playing for the first time since a 24-game injury stint, Senators W Patrick Eaves had his previously separated shoulder put to the test when he was drilled into the side boards by Washington D Mike Green near the five-minute mark of the first. It passed.
BETWEEN PERIODS: Ilya Zubov was playing on a line with Niko Dimitrakos and Alexander Nikulin in Binghamton before being summoned yesterday to fill Heatley's hole on the left side of Spezza and Alfredsson. "I'm a little bit excited for the game," the 20-year-old Russian said after his first NHL practice yesterday. "I'll try to play good. I'll have a good line. It's good for me." Zubov, a former second-round pick, is pretty good with his English. And his understatements ... Zubov, who Senators scouts and GM Bryan Murray say has been the most-improved player in Binghamton this season, played against Ovechkin when both were growing up in Russia. Paddock joked with Zubov at the morning skate that he wanted the two to get reacquainted quickly. "The coach said, 'You play tonight with Ovechkin. Nothing for him. No shoot. Play with him. Where he go, you go.' "said Zubov. "I say, okay."
THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO HMMM...: Not that Alfredsson is becoming too predictable, but a reporter at the morning skate asked him for a comment about reaching the 30-goal plateau so early in the season. "If I go in a drought," Alfredsson said, at least pretending to be superstitious, "you know where I'm coming." ... Serving as host for the Comcast Sportsnet Mid-Atlantic telecast of the game was the ageless Lisa Hillary. An Ottawa girl who worked for the Senators before becoming a media starlet at TSN, A-Channel and The Score, Lisa has lived in nearby Georgetown and worked for Comcast since June, covering the Washington Redskins and Baltimore Orioles, but mostly the Caps. She promised to salute her hometown with an "eh" during a pre-game interview with Nicklas Backstrom, but we must have missed it.