|The goal scored by captain Daniel Alfredsson, above, in overtime of Game 5 of the Eastern Conference final against the Buffalo Sabres pushed the Ottawa Senators' quest for the Stanley Cup to the final stage. Photo: T. Anderson/OSHC|
by Todd Anderson
Two days after scoring the biggest goal in Ottawa Senators history captain Daniel Alfredsson was asked to relive the moment from the overtime game-winner in Game 5 against the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday that sent his team to the Stanley Cup final.
"At first, it was just trying to survive 20 guys jumping you," Alfredsson says referring to the swarm of teammates who surrounded him during the post-goal celebration. "Once you start doing a couple of interviews you realize we're going there. It's a little bit of relief I guess. It's such a close game and in overtime anything can happen. It's nice we got the good bounce."
Alfredsson's linemates - Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley - were the first two players to congratulate the captain. Spezza expects even more heroics from his right-winger in the final.
"Alfie's our leader. It's great to see him get some credit now," Spezza says. "He's got a little more left in him and a little more magic going. Hopefully, it can bring us through the finals.
"It's a chance of a lifetime. That's what I've dreamed about since being a little kid. I've won the Stanley Cup 1,000 times in my head playing road hockey. To get a real chance, it's pretty exciting."
After setting several club records since being acquired by Ottawa two summers ago, Heatley is more excited about re-writing the history books as a team.
"It feels good. This was a goal for me when I got here. It means a lot especially with the way this year went. There were lots of ups and downs, and the guys battled hard. It's nice to see we have a chance to do it now."
For all of his 10 years in the NHL, Senators alternate captain Wade Redden has been a teammate of Alfredsson's. He's proud to see his friend lead the charge during the 2007 playoffs.
"Coming into the league and to be with him every year, I've learned a lot from him. Just to see him play and have the privilege to be with him for those years, he's a class guy, a great leader and player. Definitely, no one has earned it more than him. He's worked hard his whole life and career; he's paid his dues and he's having a great run here.
A crowd of more than 3,000 fans watching Game 5 at the Red Zone on Saturday cheered Alfredsson's name after the goal. They were shouting it again at the airport when the team arrived home from Buffalo later in the evening.
"It was overwhelming," Alfredsson says of the greeting at Esso Avitat at Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport. "I thought there would be a few hundred people, but it was quite the reception. That just shows the great support we have here and how passionate the fans are. You imagine what would happen if we won the whole thing and how crazy they would go."