Panthers forward aims to catch Howe, Gretzky

SUNRISE, Fla. — One by one, Jaromir Jagr‘s Florida Panthers teammates stopped by his corner dressing area at BB&T Center to commemorate his latest milestone.

Jagr wore the Panthers’ mysterious and now-famous “Spacey in Space” sweatshirt as the players’ choice for game MVP after their 3-1 victory against the Winnipeg Jets. In his hand was the puck marked “742,” honoring his moving past Brett Hull into third place on the NHL’s all-time goals list.

Jagr passed Hull with his 741st and 742nd career goals, tying the game 1-1 in the second period and adding to a 2-1 lead in the third period.

“I don’t really think about it, to be honest with you,” Jagr said. “I don’t feel I played real well the last few games, so I wanted to make sure I played a little bit better today. I had a little bit more jump. I’m glad I helped the team win.”

Jagr moves to third all time

Jagr began the season in fifth place on the all-time list with 722 goals and passed Marcel Dionne (731) on his way to passing Hull.

Next on the list is Gordie Howe at 801. Wayne Gretzky is the all-time leader with 894 goals.

Jagr has three goals in three games since turning 44 on Monday. He and Howe are the only forwards to score an NHL goal after turning 44.

“When I got a birthday cake for my 44th birthday, you get the wish. I said, ‘I wish I’m going to be a goal scorer,'” said Jagr, whose 1,845 career points are five behind Howe for third place on the all-time list. “So far it worked, so maybe I’m going to catch Gordie and maybe Wayne Gretzky too, you know?

“Of course, I love the game. There’s no reason to quit. I love the game. There’s a million people who wanted to be in my position. If I can play in the NHL, why not keep going?”

Jagr ties Hull for third all time

Jagr tied Hull for third place when he redirected a pass from defenseman Dmitry Kulikov and passed him with a goal from the front of the net after taking a pass from Jussi Jokinen.

“I couldn’t even dream about it, first of all him playing on the same team with me and then getting an assist on the history-making goal,” Kulikov said. “It’s really special.

“He’s an unbelievable player, first of all. I think we all knew that it was going to happen sooner or later because he’s so good around the net and he shoots the puck so well. It was only a matter of time until he got the 741. … It’s a big number. I’m happy for him and it’s special to be a part of the team and play on the same team with him.”

The Panthers recognized each of Jagr’s goals with an announcement accompanied by a shot of him on the bench. Jagr got up each time and raised his left arm to acknowledge the applause from the crowd.

“It was awesome,” Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo said. “He was flying tonight. You could tell that he was on top of every puck, creating chances, skating well. It’s probably one of his best games of the year, I thought.

“It’s fun to be part of something like that.”

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