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The Ottawa Senators were excited with the way they opened the 2008-09 season in Sweden, but an unfortunate injury has put a damper on their encouraging start.
The Senators will be without captain Daniel Alfredsson Saturday when they host the defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings, who are trying to avoid opening a season with consecutive losses for the first time in nearly two decades.
Alfredsson will likely be sidelined for two weeks after undergoing arthroscopic surgery to remove a bone chip on his right knee Friday. Alfredsson sustained the injury in Ottawa's 3-1 win over Pittsburgh on Sunday in his native Sweden.
The Senators (1-0-1) believe a hit he took aggravated an injury from last season, dislodging the bone chip and causing it to float around in the knee.
Doctors said Alfredsson could play through it, but he would eventually need surgery. The team decided this would be the best time for the surgery with Ottawa opening a five-game, two-week long homestand Saturday.
"Certainly we're going to miss Alfie ... we're obviously a better team when he's in there, but it's a great opportunity for us to prove that we're different this year," Senators coach Craig Hartsburg said.
The 35-year-old Alfredsson had 40 goals and 49 assists in 70 games last season, helping lead Ottawa to a second-place finish in the Northeast Division.
In the only meeting between the Senators and Red Wings last season on Jan. 12, Alfredsson scored two goals in a 3-2 victory.
On Sunday, Alfredsson set up both of Dany Heatley's power-play goals to help the Senators take three of four points from the defending Eastern Conference champion Penguins. Ottawa was swept by Pittsburgh in the first round of last season's playoffs.
"The way we played I think is encouraging," Alfredsson said. "Heater stepped up with two big goals and showed the way.
"We kept them in check throughout the game. They had some chances but (goaltender) Alex (Auld) played very well. So we have to be really happy with this. They're a good team. They have a lot of confidence since last year, and to be able to get three of four points here is big for us."
Auld finished with 30 saves and had his shutout bid spoiled when he gave up a power-play goal with 2 seconds left in the third period - the only power-play goal the Senators have allowed in 14 chances this season. Ottawa had the ninth-worst penalty killing unit last season, stopping 81.1 percent of its opponents' power-play chances.
"Specialty teams will be very important in today's NHL and we've done a really good job on our penalty killing," Alfredsson said.
The Red Wings come into this contest looking to bounce back from a 3-2 loss to Toronto on Thursday. Detroit raised its 11th Stanley Cup banner to the rafters of Joe Louis Arena before the game, but was unable to avoid a letdown after an elaborate ceremony.
"The bottom line is, we found out what level the NHL is played at tonight," coach Mike Babcock said.
Detroit is trying to become the first team to repeat as champions since it accomplished the feat in 1997 and '98, but first hopes to avoid opening a season 0-2 for the first time since dropping its first four games in 1989-90.
"We're going to see a lot of teams playing us like that, working real hard defensively," Nicklas Lidstrom said. "That's what we're going to see throughout the season."
Chris Osgood, who stopped 26 shots Thursday, has not faced Ottawa since Feb. 10, 2004. He's 0-5-0 with two ties and a 2.99 goals-against average versus the Senators since recording a win over them on Feb. 6, 2001.