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Red Wings host Sens in Alfredsson's first game vs. former club
(SportsNetwork.com) - The shock of Daniel Alfredsson's departure from Ottawa has probably started to lighten a bit now that the NHL season is a few weeks old, but Senators fans may still have to blink a few times on Wednesday night when they see the veteran forward in a Detroit Red Wings sweater.
The Sens will get a look at the definition of their past as they visit Alfredsson and the Red Wings for the first time since this season.
Alfredsson sent waves through the NHL, especially in Ottawa, when he departed the Sens as a free agent by signing a one-year, $5.5 million deal with Detroit on July 5. It ended a relationship with the city and franchise that began when the Senators took the Swede in the sixth round of the 1994 draft.
"It was a very tough decision, especially when it happened fairly quickly. But the way I looked at it at the time and still do today, it's a huge challenge for myself personally, both on and off the ice," Alfredsson told NHL.com. "It's a big challenge for our family and I think I will look back at this down the road as something that was a stepping stone for me in my life, in a lot of different areas."
The 40-year-old played in 17 seasons with Ottawa before departing as the club's all-time leader in goals (426), assists (682), points (1,108) and games played (1,108). He was selected to six All-Star Games in that span and served as the captain of the Senators from 1999-2013.
Alfredsson, who has a goal and eight assists in 10 games with the Red Wings, will face the Senators again in Detroit on Nov. 23 just over a week before his first scheduled trip to Ottawa on Dec. 1.
Ottawa head coach Paul MacLean is tasked with trying to keep his team focused on the task at hand and not on the reunion with Alfredsson.
"I think Bobby Ryan went back to Anaheim and it was emotional for him," said MacLean. "I'm not going to be able to speak for Daniel. We're just going there to play the Red Wings. That's all my focus is on is we're playing the Red Wings. That's a big enough task in my book."
The Sens and Red Wings will meet four times in total this season after realignment shifted Detroit from the Western to Eastern Conference. The Senators and Red Wings both now reside in the new-look Atlantic Division.
Detroit has won four straight over Ottawa, scoring 19 goals over that time, and has not lost to the Senators since Jan. 12, 2008 on the road. The Red Wings have won two straight and five of the previous six meetings at home in this series.
Alfredsson and the rest of the Red Wings' offense was shut down in Monday's 1-0 shootout loss to the visiting San Jose Sharks. Jimmy Howard made 27 saves through overtime to get credited with his 17th career shutout, but allowed the only goal of the tiebreaker.
"That was two really good teams playing some great defense out there," said Detroit head coach Mike Babcock. "Scoring chances were very few on both sides of the ice."
The Red Wings lost their second game in a row, but are 4-1-1 in their past six games overall.
Detroit will be without defenseman Jonathan Ericsson for at least the next two weeks due to a partially dislocated left shoulder, though fellow blueliner Niklas Kronwall has been medically cleared after missing the past two contests with a concussion and could return tonight.
The Sens, meanwhile, had a two-game win streak halted with Saturday's 3-1 home setback to the Edmonton Oilers. Chris Neil had a third-period goal and backup netminder Robin Lehner made 18 saves as Ottawa failed to record a point for the third time this season (3-3-2).
"I don't think we had enough traffic at their net. We didn't get to their net probably as much as we needed to," noted MacLean. "If we could have got a little more traffic it probably would have helped us a lot, but they did a good job of boxing us out."
As the Senators prepare to face their former star they recalled 20-year-old forward Mika Zibanejad from Binghamton on Tuesday. The sixth overall pick of the 2011 draft ranked fourth in scoring for the Sens last season, notching 20 points on seven goals and 13 assists in 42 games.
The Swede had two goals and five assists in six games with the B-Sens of the American Hockey League this season.
No. 1 goaltender Craig Anderson is likely to get the start tonight for the Sens and is just 2-5-0 with a 3.14 goals against average in 10 games (7 starts) versus the Red Wings.
Howard is unbeaten in three starts against the Sens, going 3-0-0 with a 3.00 GAA.
10/23 09:57:03 ET