NEW YORK – Jaromir Jagr lost his teeth, then found the net.
Bloodied in the mouth in the second period by either the puck or an errant stick, the Rangers captain netted the winning goal in the third period of New York’s 3-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday night. He almost had the goal removed as painfully as his teeth when NHL officials closely reviewed videotape more than an hour after the game to see if the shot got through cleanly or was deflected in by teammate Brendan Shanahan.
Either way, the hard one-timer snapped a tie and provided the winning margin.
The shot came close to Shanahan’s skate, and both players would gladly take credit for the goal scored with 9:15 left. The pair of 600-goal scorers have been struggling offensively in the early going this season.
Shanahan scored an undisputed power-play goal 2:44 later to stretch the lead to 3-1 and give him his second of the season – one fewer than Jagr.
“Broken skate, broken glove, broken teeth. What a night,” said Jagr, who has two goals in two games. “Break my skate, first period. Second, my glove. Then my teeth.
“I didn’t see myself yet. It’s Halloween tomorrow. I don’t have to buy a mask.”
There were smiles all around the Rangers dressing room after the game that produced as many goals as they’d scored in four previous contests combined.
The late goals secured New York’s second win in seven games (2-4-1). Nigel Dawes netted the first for the Rangers, who have an NHL-low 19 in 11 games.
Vincent Lecavalier netted his sixth on a second-period penalty shot, but the Lightning – 5-0-1 at home – fell to 0-4 on the road as they started a three-stop trip in the New York area.
Their best player was Johan Holmqvist, who made 32 saves but couldn’t overcome four penalties taken by teammates in the third.
“Our goalie gives us a chance after two periods and we can’t put 20 minutes of disciplined, hard hockey together,” coach John Tortorella said in an expletive-filled tirade. “We don’t deserve anything. We spend more time looking at referees for calls, instead of playing.
“It’s very frustrating to see one guy show up.”
Henrik Lundqvist rebounded from a 4-1 loss to Toronto on Saturday with a 21-save effort and allowed one goal or fewer for the fourth time in five games. His only blemish was Lecavalier’s goal.
Although frustrated by the one that got away, Lundqvist was pleased with the much-needed victory.
“Jags going, the power play was going … there were so many good things,” Lundqvist said. “We’ve been playing great as a team but you want to feel like it pays off, too. And it finally did. It’s easy to stay patient when you know it’s going to pay off.”
Lecavalier was hooked from behind by defenceman Marek Malik just moments after Jagr skated to the bench, holding his mouth after getting clipped. It knocked out the bridge where his front teeth once were and left his mouth still blood covered after the game.
“He’ll have to eat soup,” Lundqvist said. “He didn’t look too good. That’s the face of a warrior.”
On the sixth penalty shot of Lecavalier’s career, the talented Lightning centre skated down the middle as Lundqvist drifted in front of his crease. Lecavalier glided to his right, going to his backhand and sliding a shot back between Lundqvist’s pads to tie it 1-1 at 6:28.
It wasn’t enough.
“We got caught in penalties and they banged them in,” Lightning forward Martin St. Louis said.
Dawes gave New York a 1-0 lead in the first with his third, all scored in the previous three games. With his back to the net, Dawes deflected defenceman Paul Mara’s shot from the left point between his legs and into the small gap between Holmqvist’s right skate and the post at 7:40.
Dawes, who has four career goals in 14 NHL games, scored both in New York’s 2-0 victory over New Jersey last Thursday – giving him three of the Rangers’ previous four goals.
Not exactly what they are looking for with a lineup that includes Jagr, Shanahan, and new high-priced forwards scorers Scott Gomez and Chris Drury, who had two assists.
That quartet combined for six goals in the first 10 games before showing signs Monday of breaking out.
Notes: Lecavalier is 2-for-6 on penalty shots. Lundqvist has stopped three of five. … The Rangers have killed 48 of 54 short-handed situations this season and 22 of last 23. … Lightning D Dan Boyle made his season debut after missing nine games following wrist surgery.