OTTAWA -- Daniel Alfredsson caught up once more with Erik Karlsson at Canadian Tire Centre on Thursday. With the Detroit Red Wings facing the Ottawa Senators for the fourth time since Alfredsson left Karlsson and the Canadian capital behind to play in Motown, it's all business this time around.
"We always have a good time together, but this is a division game with playoff implications," Alfredsson said about seeing Karlsson, his former Senators protégé and teammate on Sweden's silver medal-winning team at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, prior to his second game back in Ottawa. "I think everybody knows it's going to be a tight race all the way until the end, and you play teams that are right around you; it's important games, so I'm not looking to go out there and have fun, it's just go out there, get the job done and get the two points."
Alfredsson was welcomed back by Senators fans in Detroit's first game in Ottawa on Dec. 1. He was given a huge ovation during a pregame video tribute, and then went out and scored an empty-net goal to seal a 4-2 win for the Red Wings.
"I thought he enjoyed it last time," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "The crowd gave him an unbelievable ovation, we found a way to win the game for him; to tell you the truth, I thought the toughest one for him was the first night in Detroit. You know, it's over now. He's proud of the fact that he played here. He's got great friends on that team, as you can see him huddled with them, a lot of history here; that's never going to go away, but right now he's helping us get in the playoffs."
The Red Wings are currently in the second and final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference with a 27-20-12 mark for 66 points, three ahead of Ottawa. Both teams have 23 games remaining.
"It's always fun games playing Detroit, and ever since (Alfredsson) moved there it's making it a little more special," Karlsson said. "Obviously a lot of the guys on that team played with me in Team Sweden and you know we had a great time, but now it's back to business and we're both fighting for those last couple of playoff spots."
Babcock said he would leave Todd Bertuzzi out of the lineup after the veteran forward played for the first time in more than a month Wednesday. Either Luke Glendening, Daniel Cleary or Patrick Eaves will draw into the lineup in place of Bertuzzi, who scored his first goal since Dec. 10 in Detroit's 2-1 overtime win against the Montreal Canadiens.
"I just took Bert out because of back-to-back," Babcock said. "To be honest with you, I might have taken Alfie out too if it wasn't Ottawa just after a break. I thought Bert was great (Wednesday) night, he'll be back in next game."
Senators goalie Craig Anderson is in Florida with his wife for the birth of their second child. Ottawa coach Paul MacLean said Anderson will rejoin the team Friday and make the trip to take part in the 2014 Tim Hortons Heritage Classic against the Vancouver Canucks at BC Place on Sunday (4 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS).
Here are the possible Red Wings and Senators lineups: