OTTAWA - Daniel Alfredsson has scored a lot of goals during his 17 seasons with the Ottawa Senators — 476 to be precise — but the latest one may be the biggest for a player means so much to the franchise and the city.
Alfredsson scored with 29 seconds left in regulation Sunday night to tie Game 3 of the Senators' Eastern Conference semifinal series with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Ottawa went on to win 2-1 in double overtime as Colin Greening scored on a rebound. The Senators now trail the series 2-1.
"It feels great to get a goal like that, there's no question, but we had three guys, me (Sergei) Gonchar and (Milan) Michalek all make good plays on it and I was able to get loose on the far side," Alfredsson said, deflecting the praise although the play started and ended with him.
"I made a drop pass to Gonchar who drew a couple of guys to him. I was able to get loose on the outside and Milo threw a great pass that I was able to chip over (goaltender Tomas) Vokoun."
The goal was the 50th of Alfredsson's playoff career and although it wasn't the overtime winner, Greening's goal doesn't happen without Alfredsson's tying.
No one was happier to see the puck go in then Senators defenceman Erik Karlsson, who was sitting in the penalty box after taking a slashing penalty 58 seconds earlier.
"We knew we had to force it shorthanded. I'm sure (Pittsburgh) was frustrated not to being able to clinch the win there but for us it was huge," Alfredsson said.
Although he wouldn't say how the goal ranked among the other 475 in his career, it was the biggest goal since his overtime marker in 2007 over the Buffalo Sabres sent the Senators to the Stanley Cup final.
"That's why he's been the captain for so long. He never quits and he leads the way for the rest of us. He showed that even though we were down a man we were really going to try and win the game and that's exactly what he did," Karlsson said.
"It's a game changer for sure. It's a big difference being down three (games) instead of one."
Alfredsson has now taken of the Senators' scoring lead in these playoffs with three goals and eight points.
"Another big goal from our captain that gave us energy. We really wanted to win at home and to come away with this is incredible," said rookie Jean-Gabriel Pageau, who has four playoff goals.
Jason Spezza was making his playoff debut following back surgery that ended his regular season after just five games. He has witnessed firsthand some of Alfredsson's magic over the years having played alongside him for nine years with the Senators.
"When you get the penalty there you don't expect to get much out of it, but it was a heck of a play by all the guys on the ice and a nice finish," Spezza said.
"It was a huge goal and the bench was pretty excited. When you get a goal like that you feel that good things are going to happen."
And good things did happen.
Greening flipped the rebound of an Andre Benoit shot past Vokoun at 7:39 of the fifth period and instead of being a what would have been a 0-3 hole, the Senators are now one win away from heading back to Pittsburgh with the series tied 2-2.
The Senators host Game 4 Wednesday night.