Jagr became the 12th player in NHL history to accumulate 1,500 career points, earning three assists to help the New York Rangers beat the Washington Capitals 5-2 Saturday night.
The Rangers captain reached the mark by setting up power-play goals by Michal Rozsival in the first and third periods. He added another assist with 13:51 left, sending a centring pass that Martin Straka fired past Olie Kolzig to provide New York with a two-goal cushion.
Jagr has 612 goals and 889 assists in 1,165 career games. But he failed to fulfill high expectations in Washington before being traded to New York in 2004, and thus many in the sellout crowd let him know what they thought of him each time his stick met the puck.
“It’s strange I did it here, in this arena,” he said, grinning sheepishly.
Jagr amassed 217 points in 190 games with the Capitals, but the team never won a playoff series with him. Washington fans will never let him forget it, but their jeers did nothing to deter the pleasure Jagr derived from an important victory.
“That’s OK. I don’t really worry about it,” he said. “As long as we win, it’s good.”
After dropping dangerously close to falling from playoff contention, the Rangers have won two straight. At this point, they can’t afford another slump – and are playing that way.
“It is our situation, our circumstance,” coach Tom Renney said. “These last few games we’ve been in a position to put our foot down even farther and have done that.
“It just seems like we’re on a mission, and the big thing here is to create some momentum.”
Renney was focused on getting two points in the standings, but also took pleasure in seeing Jagr reach 1,500.
“I’m always honoured to be a part of anything that these great players do,” he said. “Anytime I can be on any bench, watching people like that do wonderful things, I’m grateful for it.”
Jagr also appreciated the significance of his accomplishment.
“It’s a big honour,” he said. “How many years has the NHL been around, 100?
“The best players in the world play in this league. If I can be in the top 12, that’s great.”
Straka scored two goals for the Rangers, the last an empty-netter with 29.5 seconds left.
Alex Ovechkin and Chris Clark had power-play goals for the Capitals, who were 0-for-15 with the extra man in their last four games. Coach Glen Hanlon reconfigured the unit Friday, and the change produced the desired results.
But the Rangers limited Washington to only 19 shots, and Henrik Lundqvist stopped all but two in a sufficient encore to his 5-0 shutout of Tampa Bay on Friday night.
“Those shouldn’t be your only two goals of the game,” Capitals defenceman Steve Eminger said. “We didn’t have enough shots.
“We were controlling the puck . . . but we weren’t getting second and third chances, and that’s what we’ve got to do.”
Rozsival put the Rangers up 3-2 with 15:43 to go, beating Kolzig on a blast between the circles off a centring pass from Michael Nylander. Jagr got the puck to Nylander, who was behind the net.
Two minutes earlier, Clark took a pass from Alexander Semin and deked Lundqvist before scoring on a backhand shot.
“We should have definitely had goals on other chances,” Clark said, “but we couldn’t find the back of the net for some reason.”
The Rangers went up 2-1 midway through the second period when Marcel Hossa slammed in the rebound of a shot by Brendan Shanahan with New York on the power play. After scoring two goals in his first 50 games this season, Hossa has three in the last four.
Notes: New York won the season series 3-1 . . . Former Orioles infielder Cal Ripken, who was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame last month, received a standing ovation when introduced to the crowd during the second period. He watched the game in the owner’s box with Ted Leonsis . . . New York LW Pascal Dupius, acquired Friday in a trade with Minnesota, was scratched . . . Ovechkin has four goals and four assists in eight career games against New York.