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Alfredsson taking latest milestone chase in stride

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson is one goal shy of the 400 mark for his career, a milestone he could reach tonight against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Place (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images).

History suggests the moment will be saved for at least one more night.

Daniel Alfredsson, after all, has quite the track record of doing great things at First Niagara Center in Buffalo, where the Senators will ring down the curtain on 2011 on Saturday night (7 p.m., CBC, Team 1200). But the Ottawa captain admits he'd be more than happy to reach his latest career milestone — 400 goals in the National Hockey League — before the home folks this evening, when the Calgary Flames visit Scotiabank Place (7:30 p.m., Sportsnet East, Team 1200).

"It's always nice, if you can, to get milestones at home," Alfredsson said following the Senators' pre-game skate earlier today. "But it'll happen when it happens."

The NHL's current longest-serving captain had a couple of golden opportunities during Tuesday night's 6-2 home-ice loss to the Montreal Canadiens and knows it's simply a matter of time before he becomes just the 86th player in nearly a century of league play to reach the 400 mark.

"I try to score every game if I can and you do everything you can to put yourself into position to get shots and get scoring chances," said Alfredsson, who'll start tonight's game on a line with twentysomethings Kyle Turris and Erik Condra. "After that, it's pretty much up to your skill and the goalie's skills to see what's going to happen — who's going to make the save, who's going to score."

Of course, if the grand moment happens Saturday night in Buffalo, few should be surprised. After all, it was just 14 months ago that Alfredsson hit the 1,000-point career plateau by notching a hat trick against the Sabres. And few goals in Senators history were bigger than the overtime tally the captain scored at First Niagara Center (then HSBC Arena) in Game 5 of the 2007 Eastern Conference final, which sent Ottawa to the Stanley Cup final for the first time in modern franchise history.

"I've had some milestones or big goals there," Alfredsson said with a chuckle. "But it's going to happen when it happens. There's no way around it. I had some great chances the last game and I feel like I'm shooting the puck better today than I was a couple of days ago, so I feel pretty good."

The latter sentiment might also apply to the news that Chris Phillips, who sat out the Montreal game with an upper-body injury, is good to go against the Flames tonight. For the veteran blueliner, who's due to play NHL career game No. 1,000 in early February, it's only the second contest his missed in the last five seasons.

"It wasn't a lingering injury," said Phillips. "It's tough to sit in the stands and watch, so I'm excited to get back in there ... It's hard not to be in there when you get used to being in there all the time, but I'm honest with myself and with the team about what is the right thing to do.

"But I'm ready to go and excited to be back."

Around the boards

With the Senators facing four games in seven days, head coach Paul MacLean has elected to give backup goaltender Alex Auld a start tonight against the Flames. Ottawa's next three games are against Eastern Conference foes and MacLean said "we feel that we'll have Craig (Anderson) play the bulk of those games" ... Calgary backup Leland Irving will tend goal for the visitors ... Also in milestone territory tonight is Flames captain Jarome Iginla, who's two goals shy of the 500 mark for his career ... Senators forward Jesse Winchester (concussion) worked out off-ice this morning and MacLean said he's scheduled to skate on Saturday, putting him on the path to make his return to the lineup. "That's very positive for Jesse," he said ... Matt Carkner is tonight's scratch on the blue line.

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