Alfie's rising on hit parade

DON BRENNAN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:32 AM ET

BUFFALO -- Riding the stationary bike in cool down mode moments after a long and historical night, Daniel Alfredsson perused the official stats sheet.

"First star?" he said to no one in particular with what certainly seemed like genuine surprise. "I was first star? Is my brother here? Did he pick (the stars)?"

Actually, the sheet says they were chosen by N.A., so either those are the initials of a cousin Niklas who does such work at the HSBC Arena or the selector's name was simply unavailable or unannounced.

Whoever was responsible, maybe the guy went with Alfredsson in the No. 1 slot to make up for the injustice of Game 1, when the Senators captain was by far the best player on the ice yet wasn't acknowledged in the traditional ceremony at all.

Or maybe he saw Alfredsson's first-period goal that cut the Sabres' lead in half to be as huge as it actually was.

Or maybe he glanced at the ice time, noticed that Alfie's 30:32 was almost six minutes more than the second most called upon Ottawa forward (Jason Spezza), and realized how valuable he team's oldest player was to the cause.

Or maybe, just maybe, he had a twisted side to him that wanted to give the Sabres fans something more to grumble about as they left the building following Ottawa's 4-3 double-overtime win Saturday night.

Alfredsson was booed every time he touched the puck after drilling Henrik Tallinder into the boards midway through the first overtime period. No penalty was called and the hit was decried by the Don and Ron act watching the game from the Party Plaza.

Curiously, the same Coach's Corner act-alike referred to Brian Campbell charging hard from behind into Chris Kelly about three ticks before Daniel Briere's tying goal with six seconds left as "the essence of hockey."

The difference between the Alfredsson and Campbell hits was minimal, as far as we could tell. Alfredsson seemed to come at Tallinder from a little bit more of an angle, but he did knock him into the boards. Campbell hit a guy who didn't have the puck square in the middle of the back on a play that allowed for a last-second goal. If anyone should have a beef, you'd think it would be the Senators.

"I asked the ref about it, but there's nothing he's going to do at that point," said Kelly. "I guess it's like field lacrosse. If you're within six feet of the ball, you can get smoked. I should have been ready."

Meanwhile, Alfredsson's collection of rinks he gets booed in has grown to three -- the HSBC Arena, the Air Canada Centre and Scotiabank Place when the Maple Leafs and their fans take it over.

If they start hating him in Detroit or Anaheim in a couple of weeks, it'll surely mean Alfredsson will be strengthening his grip on the Conn Smythe Trophy.

In the meantime, Senators fans can be expected to show him some serious love tonight in Game 3.

The "Alfie, Alfie, Alfie" chants should be louder and more frequent than ever.

This and that

He saw far more ice time than any other player Saturday night (37:49) and he wound up with 11 blocked shots -- or just eight less than the entire Sabres team. Remember last year at this time, when Anton Volchenkov was the Senators' sixth defenceman? ... The Sabres were 46-0 in games they led by two goals this season -- before Saturday. That the Senators became the first team to turn the tide, especially in a game Buffalo so needed to win, should probably be considered another example of the character in this Ottawa room. Just as was the overtime goal after losing the lead with six seconds left. "It was disheartening," said Chris Phillips. "But we were still tied and we knew we could still win it." ... There was a continuing theme on sports talk radio on Buffalo's WGR-550 yesterday. If you buy into what the callers and hosts were selling, you too will believe Ray Emery isn't very good. If you look at his 10-2 playoff record and the fact he has just twice posted road victories against what many considered to be the best team in the NHL most of the season, you probably think otherwise ... A real, personable Joe Corvo shone through at Saturday's post-game press conference, replacing the one that often seems to have little interest in talking to the media since early season confessions he made in print and on the airwaves. Sitting and beaming alongside Emery on the podium, the Senators defenceman was asked about his game winner. "Obviously it's the biggest goal of my life. It was just (a feeling of) total elation when it went in. Obviously it was a great moment and one I'll always remember." Asked if he would be able to get any sleep that night, he said, "I was just trying to catch the highlight (of the goal) on TSN there. Then I said, don't worry, I'll probably catch it at 5 a.m. when I'm still awake." Leaving the press conference, one reporter clearly found the night's hero refreshing. "This series needs more Joe Corvo," he exclaimed.


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