SUNRISE–Jaromir Jagr sees everything on and off the ice. It helps him in his pursuit of Mark Messier as the NHL’s second all-time leading scorer, and it fuels him to see friendly faces in the crowd, though he rarely outwardly acknowledges anyone. There are a couple of exceptions. Two weeks ago, out of the corner of his eye he sees fans in Czech Republic jerseys, nearly 200 in all. Last night it was his globetrotting bandwagon in the stands, the Travelling Jagrs and their growing entourage.
Jagr smiled at their ovation when he took the ice in warmups, and they roared their approval again as the Panthers leading scoring and resident legend collected two assists as Florida defeated New Jersey 3-2 Thursday night at BB&T Center.
With second line center Vincent Trocheck out for three weeks the Panthers welcomed back center Derek MacKenzie and defenseman Erik Gudbranson. The result was a more competent defensive presence than the Panthers have put forth in several weeks.
Jonathon Huberdeau scored a game-tying and go ahead goal that lasted until the last minute of the game. Fortunately Aleksander Barkov had an insurance goal that became the game winner when New Jersey scored with five seconds remaining. All the goals came from the Panthers top line. Jagr’s assist on the Barkov goal will be undoubtably on the Panthers season-in-review higlight film. Speaking of highlights, the entire NHL.com package can be viewed here.
A big night for the Big 3 as Huberdeau and Jagr celebrate Huberdeau’s second goal in this nhl.com photo. With the assist Jagr became the fourth player to compile 18 seasons of 60 points more, a club now occupied by Gordie Howe, Wayne Gretzky and Ron Francis. He also recorded his second season of 60+ points by a player aged 42 or higher.
One point of concern during the game was the franchise tradition of tossing rubber rats onto the ice. After an initial warning the Panthers were twice penalized after goals were scored when hundreds of the prom0tional rubber rats were thrown onto the ice. both served to derail the Panthers in the aftermath of scoring goals. The one goal that was scored during this ratastrophic events came with five second remaining in the game slicing Florida’s lead to 3-2. Jagr spoke about this and the rest of the game afterward.
The Florida win, combined with a Tampa Bay loss, vaulted the Panthers to a two-point advantage in the Atlantic Division with each team’s schedule showing give games remaining. Time is running out for either Detroit or Boston, as the Atlantic will likely only have three representatives to the Metropolitan Division’s five likely representatives.
Jagr’s two assists were his 60th and 61st points of the season, tops on the Panthers and he now has 1863 in his career. The point total ranks third all time in NHL history, and Mark Messier is second at 1887.
Meanwhile, the Jagr-O-Meter needed a few updates after the victory over New Jersey.
A fun night with the Travelling Jagrs both before and during the game. First there was tailgating and many group photos. They’ll also be in attendance for Saturday’s game against Montreal at BB&T Center. The Travelling Jagrs will also play pickup hockey with some local rec players at 3 pm, the be part of a public session at 4 pm at the Panthers Ice Den.
JAGRometer.com is created by Ray Haluska, aka Kladno Jagr. For comments or questions, about Jagr or the Travelling Jagrs, contact me at rokinray@aolcom or @CruisingRay on Twitter.