OTTAWA – The Ottawa Senators may have played their final home game of the season Wednesday. The question remains whether it was the final game in Ottawa for captain Daniel Alfredsson.
The Senators were thumped 7-3 by the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals at Scotiabank Place, leaving them down 3-1 in the best-of-7 series. With Game 5 set for Friday at Consol Energy Center (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS), and the Senators reeling, Alfredsson was forced to be blunt when asked if his club could rebound.
"Probably not," Alfredsson said. "I mean, with their depth and power play right now, you know, it doesn't look too good.
"When you look at what we did, it wasn't good enough. Does that mean [Pittsburgh] was good? Did we make them good? Who really cares? From our point of view, we didn't manage the puck [well], we didn't execute our passes, and subsequently, we got punished in the neutral zone. We turned way too many pucks over and gave them some freebies. It would have been nice to have the lead for a little bit longer, but now we're back on our heels again. We didn't shut them down when it matters."
The veteran forward was seen retrieving the puck at the end of the game, leaving some to speculate if Alfredsson considered Wednesday as his curtain call. Clearly not prepared to deal with retirement questions at the moment, Alfredsson said the puck was a memento for his family.
"I've got a lot of kids at home," he said quickly.
The night began brilliantly for the Senators and their captain. Alfredsson's pass set up Milan Michalek's shorthanded goal 2:29 into the game, seemingly lighting the fuse for the Senators. But after leading 2-1 after one period and trailing 3-2 after two, Ottawa collapsed under Pittsburgh's four-goal third period, including three in a span of 1:45. Alfredsson scored a late power-play goal for his 100th career playoff point, but all that was left after the game was the insistence that he and his team would not go down without a fight.
"It's a frustrating night," Alfredsson said. "But we've never quit, and we're not going to stop now. The odds are against us in every way. I don't think there's much going for us. Maybe that's the way we like it."
With at least one more game to play, Alfredsson will allow himself only to think about the team's future. For now, his own is not up for discussion.
"Your focus has to go into [Game 5]," Alfredsson said. "It's a big game. Whatever happens, happens. I don't know myself yet. It's not something about or ‘what ifs.' It's about going to Pittsburgh and trying to bring another game back to this building."