CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. –– Jaromir Jagr had a very simple way of looking at things after moving within one goal of Brett Hull for third place on the NHL’s all-time goal-scoring list.
“It was two away, I scored a goal, it’s one away,” Jagr said Friday after the Florida Panthers optional practice.
“You know what, I don’t even think about it. We just have to make sure we play good hockey and I play good hockey. If we’re going to play good, it’s just a matter of time before I score. I just have to make sure we play good.”
Jagr scored his 740th goal, one behind Hull’s 741, in the third period of a 2-1 shootout loss against the San Jose Sharks on Thursday. The Panthers host the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; SN, FS-F, NHL.TV).
Jagr began the season in fifth place all-time with 722 goals, but since has passed Marcel Dionne (731 goals). Wayne Gretzky is the all-time leader with 894 goals, followed by Gordie Howe with 801.
“It’s great to see him score goals,” Panthers coach Gerard Gallant said. “He’s one goal away from Brett Hull; that’s unbelievable. He just keeps finding a way to put the puck in the back of the net. It’s important for our team. It was a big goal for us last night.”
Jagr has 18 goals in 55 games this season, surpassing his 17 goals in 77 games in 2014-15 when he split time between the New Jersey Devils and Panthers.
Jagr, the oldest player in the League at 44, made his NHL debut Oct. 5, 1990 and has played 1,605 games with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capitals, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Dallas Stars, Boston Bruins, Devils and Panthers.
Jagr says his goals these days are coming differently than when he was younger.
“No question about it,” he said. “I’m playing differently. I try to adjust to the game and to my linemates the best I can. Back then, I didn’t adjust to anybody. I’d play my game. You adjust to me or you don’t play with me. That was before.
“I’ve got good players around me. That’s a huge advantage. I know I can play a lot better than I’m playing right now, so if I played better, I know I would have 30 right now because there are so many good players around me. I know I can play better.”
Jagr said he’s not aware of the attention placed on his climb up the all-time lists — he’s in the top 10 in games played (10th), assists (sixth) and points (fourth) — and he might start reflecting on his career accomplishments after he retires.
For now, the focus is on trying to help the Panthers stay in first place in the Atlantic Division; they have a five-point lead over the second-place Bruins.
Goalie Roberto Luongo, who ranks in the top 11 in NHL history in games played, victories and shutouts, also is focused on winning games. At the same time, he can appreciate his teammate’s accomplishments.
“It’s fun to be part of it,” Luongo said. “Guys are excited, but at the same time I don’t think we’re thinking about that too much when we’re on the ice. When it happens, it happens and we’ll be happy for him. But I think guys are more worried about collecting points in the standings right now. I’m sure [Jagr] himself is more concerned with that. He’ll get it eventually, so we’re not worried about that part.”