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Alfredsson leads Red Wings past Senators

The SportsXchange

OTTAWA -- It was a sweet homecoming for Detroit Red Wings winger Daniel Alfredsson.

Playing his first game back at Canadian Tire Centre as a member of the visiting team, the former Senators captain scored once and assisted on another goal as the Red Wings defeated Ottawa 4-2 Sunday night.

Alfredsson was honored prior to the game for all he accomplished in his 18 years as the franchise face in Canada's capital.

"The result makes it a lot sweeter," said Alfredsson, who signed with Detroit as a free agent last summer. "You can tell our team was motivated today and played hard. But if we would have lost, I think it would have still been a night I'll always remember."

The Wings (14-7-7) also avenged two earlier home losses to Ottawa this season by improving their winning streak to four games.

The loss was the third in four games for the Senators (10-13-4), who have also lost four in a row at home.

Red Wings winger Drew Miller led the way for the winners with two goals, while winger Johan Franzen had the other. Winger Clarke MacArthur and winger Mika Zibanejad replied for the Senators.

Detroit goalie Jonas Gustavsson faced 32 shots while Senators goalie Robin Lehner was tested 22 times.

"We're not doing it hard enough. We need to be harder," said Senators coach Paul MacLean. "That might be harsh to say. We could look at the stats sheet and say it flattered us a little bit with the shots on goal and this or that.

"At the end of the day, we didn't do enough to win. Is that playing harder? Is that work ethic? Is that being smarter? It's all of the above. ... We need wins or you end up being what (you) are. If this is what we are, we need to keep working at it."

Miller's fourth goal of the season at 1:58 of the third period gave the Red Wings a 3-1 lead, but Zibanejad narrowed the gap with Lehner on the bench and 1:21 left on the clock.

Alfredsson ended any hope of a comeback by scoring into an empty net with 1:03 to go.

"It was nice to kind of seal the game there because they were pushing and I was thinking, here comes the pesky Sens again," said Alfredsson. "But we were lucky to get a good bounce, I was able to get free and put the game away."

Franzen opened the scoring at 8:22 of the second period with his seventh goal of the season, a wrist shot from the top of the left wing faceoff circle that beat Lehner high to the glove side. Alfredsson earned an assist on the goal.

Less than three minutes later, Miller took a cross-slot pass from center Tomas Tatar and one-timed a shot off the post past an outstretched Lehner.

MacArthur scored his eighth off a scramble at the 14:14 mark of the middle period, sliding a shot through a crowd of Red Wings in front of Gustavsson.

"We've got to fill the holes in this leaking boat at home," said MacArthur, who bemoaned the fact the Senators couldn't take advantage of momentum from a rare sellout. "It gets frustrating. We have a young team, we tighten up and on the road you make a mistake and you don't feel the wrath of 18,000 people.

"There's lots of momentum in this building. The fans have been good. We've got to find a way to strive off that."

The Red Wings won 67 percent of first-period faceoffs, but because Ottawa had the only two power plays, the teams were tied 10-10 on the shot clock at the intermission.

The best save of the opening frame belonged to Lehner, who stoned center Darren Helm on a clear breakaway in the 12th minute.

"I didn't have a bunch of shots, but when they got shots, they were pretty good," said Lehner. "A few mistakes cost us. A team with lots of skill is going to take care of 2-on-1s and 3-on-2s. We've got to try to eliminate these odd-man rushes. They're killing us."

Meanwhile, the Red Wings were just happy to pick up what they came for in Ottawa.

"It was a good win," said Detroit winger Justin Abdelkader. "Obviously we haven't played well against these guys the first couple of games, and I know it meant a lot for Alfie and his homecoming back here. We wanted to play hard, play good and it was a big divisional game too for us. So it was a big two points."

NOTES: Between the national anthems and the opening faceoff, Red Wings RW Daniel Alfredsson was honored with a video tribute and crowd ovation that lasted two minutes and 44 seconds. The face of the organization for most of his 18 years in Ottawa, Alfredsson skated from the bench to center ice with his stick raised to say thanks, then appeared to ask the referees to start the game. ... Senators D Marc Methot was a late scratch because of a flu. Taking his place was D Jared Cowen, who was headed to a seat in the press box for a second consecutive game. ... Detroit was without two veterans, C Pavel Datsyuk (concussion) and RW Todd Bertuzzi (shoulder). ... Red Wings G Jonas Gustavsson started for the fifth time in the team's past eight games. G Robin Lehner stared for the fifth time in Ottawa's past seven games. Both Gustavsson and Lehner entered the season as backup goalies. Their second-string status is now up for debate.
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