DETROIT — First, the new captain said all the right things about the old captain.
And then the new captain delivered on the ice in a rather shocking, unexpected romp at the Joe Louis Arena.
Jason Spezza answered the call in the Ottawa Senators’ first game against Daniel Alfredsson, leading the way with a two-goal effort in the Senators’ 6-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings Wednesday. Bobby Ryan also netted a pair for the Senators.
Spezza began the day by talking about his deep respect for Alfredsson and his decade-long friendship with the club’s longtime leader, who signed as a free agent with Detroit in the summer after 18 years with the Senators, the final 14 of those as captain.
When the puck dropped, Spezza set the tone.
He scored a first period power play goal and provided necessary insurance against the possibility of a Red Wings comeback, restoring a commanding Senators lead late in the second period.
Eric Gryba and Jared Cowen also scored for the Senators, with Todd Bertuzzi replying for the Red Wings.
After all the buildup and the return of an old scenario for Alfredsson — intense media demands here for the past few days — the 40-year-old didn’t have anything close to his best night, unable to generate much offensively. His best chance came early in the second period, but Senators goaltender Craig Anderson turned aside his slapshot. Late in the third period, Alfredsson received a tripping penalty for hauling down Mika Zibanejad.
Then again, Alfredsson had plenty of company as the Red Wings were victimized by questionable goaltending early in the game and a lack of push back as the contest went on.
The Senators, meanwhile, delivered a complete effort for the first time this season.
Perhaps it took the appearance of Alfredsson for them to recognize what they has been missing in their opening eight games.
The Senators couldn’t have asked for a better start. Alfredsson couldn’t have asked for anything worse.
The Senators were up 3-0 by the 14:14 mark on the strength of power play goals by Spezza and Ryan and an even-strength goal from Gryba, taking advantage of shaky work by Red Wings starting goaltender Jimmy Howard.
Gryba opened the scoring, stepping in from the blueline and beating Howard high to the stick side, after some solid, physical work deep in the Red Wings zone from Zibanejad, playing his first game since being recalled from Binghamton of the American Hockey League.
The Senators then went to work after Kyle Turris drew a pair of penalties — the first one to Niklas Kronwall, the second to Kyle Quincey — to take a commanding lead.
Spezza and Ryan also went high on Howard, ending the goaltender’s night early. Howard stopped only three of eight shots and in came backup Jonas Gustavsson.
The goalie switch pumped some late first period life into the Red Wings. Todd Bertuzzi capitalized on a cross-checking penalty to Colin Greening to get the Red Wings on the board, taking a puck off the lively back boards at the Joe Louis Arena and burying it past Anderson.
There would be no Red Wings comeback, however.
Jason Spezza, Senators
If Spezza was feeling mild early-season heat as the new captain during a mediocre start, he turned some heads with his two-goal effort while facing off against the club’s former captain.
Jimmy Howard, Red Wings
Detroit’s goaltender fought the puck from the outset and by the 15-minute mark he was long gone, surrendering three goals on eight shots and making way for Jonas Gustavsson.
WHY THEY WON
They paved the way with a quick start, withstood a brief rally by the Red Wings and closed the door with a solid finish.
UNDERSTANDING THE MOMENT
Red Wings coach Mike Babcock put Alfredsson in the starting lineup, on a line with Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. On his second shift, Alfredsson was back where he had been the previous two games, playing alongside Todd Bertuzzi and Johan Franzen.