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Alfredsson returns for Senators

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
The captain came back to help steer the Ottawa Senators ship.

Daniel Alfredsson's name was in the lineup when the Senators hit the ice for Game 3 of their Eastern Conference quarter-final series tonight at Scotiabank Place.

Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson, shown duelling with Jarkko Ruutu of the Penguins, made a heroic return to the Ottawa lineup on Monday night at Scotiabank Place (Photo by Dave Sandford/Getty Images).
Alfredsson, who hadn't played since suffering knee and upper body injuries in Ottawa's 8-2 victory over the Maple Leafs on April 3 in Toronto, took the pre-game warmup with the rest of his teammates. When public address announcer Stuntman Stu announced the scratches for the game, Alfredsson's name wasn't on the rather lengthy Senators list.

Almost immediately, fans in the arena knew their captain was in the game and began chanting 'Alfie, Alfie, Alfie' — a chorus that became familiar to Senators fans during the team's run to the Stanley Cup final in 2007.  He was greeted with a thunderous ovation when he stepped on the ice for his first shift 42 seconds into the game.

"When I made my decision to play, I knew the adrenalin from the crowd was going to help me," said Alfredsson after his 100th career playoff game, a 4-1 loss to the Penguins. "Playing in front of our fans really helped."

The early return of Alfredsson, who had originally been all but declared out for the duration of the first round, is an unexpected boost for the Senators. Following the team's pre-game skate this morning, head coach/general manager Bryan Murray, when asked about the possibility of Alfredsson playing tonight, said he "wasn't closing the door" on the idea.

Alfredsson skated Sunday for the first time since the injury, met with Murray this morning and huddled with his coach again this afternoon, telling him he wanted to play.

"It was unbelievable," said Murray, who was told Alfredsson would be sidelined for "six weeks minimum" when he first suffered the injury. "When he first came to me this morning and asked about playing, I said 'think about it, talk about it, but I don't want you to play if it's going to do longtime damage to you.'

"But he came back in the afternoon and said he wanted to play. I didn't use him as much (as usual). Obviously, he wasn't at full speed, you could see that ... And If anybody questions Daniel Alfredsson's character or anything again, I think I might approach them somehow in an unkind manner, let's put it that way. This guy has nothing but character."

Alfredsson said he simply wanted to do his part to help get the Senators out of a tough spot.

"I felt pretty good," he said. "I don't think anybody is 100 per cent in the playoffs. I've been trying to skate the past few days to see if I could get to a point where I felt I could help the team. I did and that's why I played."

Bodycheck, the official playoff program of the Ottawa Senators, is now available on-line. Check it out right here.

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