'Those are the moments you'll remember forever'
Alfredsson savours latest career milestone, points toward road test against Sabres
Saturday, 31.12.2011 / 2:00 PM / Features
By Rob Brodie - OttawaSenators.com
|Daniel Alfredsson's 400th career NHL goal was cause for celebration by the Senators captain and his teammates. It lifed Ottawa to a 4-3 overtime win over the Calgary Flames (Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images).
As he took one final spin around the ice on this historic evening, the game's obvious first star saluted them all with a raised stick — a fitting finish to a night Daniel Alfredsson admits he won't soon forget.
"It's special," the Senators captain said earlier today as he reflected upon a Friday night that produced his 400th career National Hockey League goal, which also happened to be the overtime winner in a 4-3 triumph over the Calgary Flames. "Those are the moments you'll remember forever."
That he was able to share the moment with a youthful team that his clearly rejuvenated his 39-year-old spirit ... that made it all the better for Alfredsson, the NHL's longest-serving captain and a man whose respect level knows no bounds in his team's dressing room.
"It shows that he's still the leader of this team and a great hockey player," said defenceman Erik Karlsson, a fellow Swede whose pass that set up Alfredsson's one-timer for the historic goal.
Alfredsson was mobbed by his teammates after his raising his hands in triumph, another part of the moment that hit home with the Ottawa captain.
"To get recognition like that from your teammates, when you get mobbed right after (scoring) ... that's the best feeling," he said following a team meeting in advance of tonight's matchup with the Buffalo Sabres at First Niagara Center (7 p.m., CBC, Team 1200).
"When you do what we did yesterday, coming back from a 3-0 (deficit) ... We were in a big hole, you fight back and you’re able to win it in overtime, that’s what it’s all about. That’s the best part of this game, when a team can overcome some obstacles and fight through and come out on top. That brings the team closer together."
With his family in the stands and a capacity crowd of 20,500 on hand, the stage couldn't have been better set for Alfredsson, who hit the 1,000-game and 1,000-point milestones in the previous two seasons. But the 16-year NHL veteran had to marvel a bit at how it all played out.
"You’ll take them any way you can, there’s no question," said Alfredsson. "But being on home ice, being down 3-0 and then coming back and winning it in overtime makes it even more special. I don’t think you could have drawn it up any better if you had a chance to do so before the game. It was a very fun night."
"To get recognition like that from your teammates, when you get mobbed right after (scoring) ... that's the best feeling. When you do what we did yesterday, coming back from a 3-0 (deficit) ... We were in a big hole, you fight back and you’re able to win it in overtime, that’s what it’s all about. That’s the best part of this game, when a team can overcome some obstacles and fight through and come out on top. That brings the team closer together." - Daniel AlfredssonAlfredsson, who became the 86th player in NHL history to reach the 400-goal milestone, admittedly doesn't put himself in the class of the game's great snipers — he startled his children by telling them about a guy named Wayne Gretzky who lit the lamp 892 times. But all of his achievement are a testament to his diligence and his constant drive to be the best that he can be.
"If you put it all in perspective, it’s a great milestone and I’m very proud of it, no question," said Alfredsson. "There are a lot of greater goal scorers than I am, but I think I’ve worked hard at it to get here. I’ve said before that if there’s anything I’ve improved the most since I came over (to North America), it’s my shot.
"It doesn’t come naturally, it’s something you work on and I’ve taken pride in working on it, too."
The moment made a clear impression on some of Alfredsson's younger teammates.
"It’s unbelievable," said Erik Condra, a second-year Senator. "He’s been a superstar in this league for awhile — I was watching him when I was a young kid. To watch something like that and have him accomplish something like that when you’re on the team is something special."
Senators head coach Paul MacLean, who notched 324 goals during his NHL playing days, surely can appreciate the magnitude of Alfredsson's latest accomplishment.
"Alfie’s had a great career and it’s a great testament," he said. "Any time you can score 400 goals in any league — especially this league, the best league in the world — that’s a special player. Not a lot of people get to do it."
Around the boards
Craig Anderson, who blanked the Flames over the final 40 minutes in relief of Alex Auld, gets the start against the Sabres tonight ... MacLean will insert blueliner Matt Carkner back into the lineup this evening, with Brian Lee being made the healthy scratch. "Brian Lee played real well for us last night. I thought he had a good game," said MacLean. "But Matt brings a presence that we need on the road" ... The Senators return home to face the New Jersey Devils on Monday night (7:30 p.m., Sportsnet East, Team 1200).