STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP)—This was hardly a routine win for Daniel Alfredsson.
Playing an NHL regular-season game in his native Sweden and skating off with his Ottawa Senators teammates after a satisfying victory could be a once-in-a-lifetime event.
“This is an experience that I’ll always remember and which I’m going to rank among the highlights in my career,” Alfredsson said after helping the Senators to a 3-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday.
The 35-year-old Alfredsson, who says he will not return to the Swedish Elite League when he ends his NHL career, set up Dany Heatley’s two power-play goals.
Heatley, who also had a goal in Ottawa’s 4-3 overtime loss to Pittsburgh on Saturday, helped the Senators take three of four points during the season-opening European series.
“The way we played I think is encouraging,” Alfredsson said. “Heater stepped up with two big goals today and showed the way.
“We kept them in check throughout the game. They had some chances but (goalie) Alex (Auld) played very well. So we have to be really happy with this. They’re a good team. They have a lot of confidence since last year, and to be able to get three of four points here is big for us.”
Alfredsson, who played on Sweden’s 2006 Olympic champion team, praised his linemates.
“I’ve talked a lot about (Jason) Spezza and Heatley in the Swedish media when I’ve played with them,” Alfredsson said. “Now they can see that I stand for my word and that they’re two really good players. I have a lot of fun and he (Heatley) showed why.”
Heatley has found a comfort zone alongside Alfredsson and Spezza, too.
“The three of us have a great chemistry,” Heatley said. “In the summer when we come back to training camp it takes us a week or so. But we always seem to get our chemistry back, and this weekend we did. We have known each other for three years and it makes it a lot easier, when the three of us get together it’s a very easy adjustment.”
Alex Goligoski spoiled Auld’s shutout bid with a power-play goal just 2 seconds before the final buzzer in front of another sold-out crowd of 13,699 at Globe Arena.
Penguins captain Sidney Crosby set up Goligoski’s goal.
Heatley gave Ottawa a 1-0 lead with a power-play goal at 13:07 in the second period. Alfredsson started the play with a pass from the left circle to Spezza just beside the goal. Heatley, left unchecked on the other side, took a pass from Spezza and put the puck between goalie Marc-Andre Fleury’s legs.
Heatley scored again at 12:17 of the third, when Pittsburgh was short-handed again, one-timing a slap shot past Fleury from close range. Alfredsson set up the goal with a nice pass.
“As a group it was a big weekend for us,” Heatley said. “We were hungry for these two games. Even if we only got one point last night we felt we worked hard. We played well and could easily have won that game. We tried really to come on and battle as a group and we did a good job at that.”
Antoine Vermette made it 3-0 with 4:10 left of the game, skating in alone and beating Fleury with a low shot.
Both goalies went the distance. Auld had 30 saves, Fleury stopped 24 shots.
In the first period, both teams played well defensively. Pittsburgh’s power play continued to fizzle, failing twice. In Saturday’s opener, the Penguins squandered five straight man-advantage chances in the first period.
“Specialty teams will be very important in today’s NHL and we’ve done a really good job on our penalty killing,” Alfredsson said. “Our power play stepped up.”
This marked the second straight year the NHL began the season in Europe, building off games in 2007 between Los Angeles and Anaheim in London.
The NHL returned to Europe with regular-season openers in both the Swedish and Czech capitals. In Prague, the New York Rangers beat the Tampa Bay Lightning by identical 2-1 scores to sweep that two-game series.
This was the first time in league history two teams began the regular season in Sweden, one of Europe’s top ice hockey nations.
This marked the second time Pittsburgh played the first two games of the regular season on international ice. The Penguins traveled to Tokyo in 2000-01, splitting a two-game series with the Nashville Predators.
It was the fifth time the NHL began its season outside of North America, with the other three openers held in Japan in 1997, 1998 and 2000.