Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson
proved you can go home again.
Alfredsson scored a goal and set up another against his former team in his home town Thursday as the Senators tuned up for the start of the NHL season by beating the Frolunda Indians 4-1 in a preseason game.
"I’m especially happy for Daniel Alfredsson and the way he was (received) by the crowd and the fans in Gothenburg," Frolunda coach Ulf Dahlen, a former NHL player, said with obvious admiration. "He deserves it and he’s done a lot for Swedish hockey. It was a special moment, not only for him but for everyone who was here."
It was a special day for Alfredsson, who last played with Frolunda during the NHL lockout in 2004-05.
"It turned out to be everything I expected and more. We won the game and I scored a goal," said Alfredsson, whose face adorned the cover of the game program. "I was (nervous) when I came to the rink, but I wasn’t nervous when I got out on the ice. I was fine. But I was nervous about everything before the game. A lot of anticipation, I guess, leading up to this day.
"It was a lot of fun and a day I'll always remember, there's no question."
Linemate Jason Spezza also had a goal and an assist for Ottawa, which opens the NHL regular season with games against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Swedish capital of Stockholm on Saturday and Sunday.
After Chris Kelly gave the Senators the lead at 12:49 of the first period, Alfredsson put Ottawa ahead 2-0 just 72 seconds later. His goal drew cheers from the sellout crowd of 12,020 at Scandinavium Arena.
Frolunda's Oscar Hedman cut the Senators' lead to 2-1 midway through the second period on a shot that deflected off Ottawa defenseman Jason Smith and past goalie Martin Gerber.
But Alexandre Picard and Spezza put the game away by scoring in a span of 1:44 early in the third period.
After the game, the Frolunda fans wouldn't let Alfredsson off the ice until he acknowledged them one last time. "Come to the boards" they sang first, then "Alfredsson back to Sweden." Alfredsson saluted them with a raised stick before tossing it into the stands, which brought another round of wild cheers.
This all took place 20 minutes — at least — after the final buzzer sounded.
"It's unbelievable," said Hasse Alfredsson, Daniel's father, who was clearly emotional about such an open display of warmth and reverence toward his son. "I'm very touched."
Alfredsson was moved by the reaction of the fans.
"I was doing an interview with Swedish TV and they said, 'Look around you, you're the only one left on the ice,'" he said. "People were chanting and I didn’t realize it at the time. I did a lap (for them) there. It’s been a great day throughout, meeting people around the town, and then in the rink today. Getting that response feels really humbling."
His teammates savored the occasion, too.
"That was nice," Spezza of setting up Alfredsson's goal. "If he didn’t score early, I was going to have to try to get him the puck all night, so it was good that got an early one and got it out of the way."
The only down note for the Senators came when center Mike Fisher left the game with a groin injury. The team said the move was a precaution, but his status for Saturday's opener is not yet known.
"We’ll have to wait and see how he feels tomorrow," Senators coach Craig Hartsburg said. "We’re hoping it’s not real serious but we’ll know better tomorrow."
Ottawa finished its preseason schedule with a 4-2-0 record. The Senators will leave for Stockholm on Friday.
Material from team websites was used in this report.