Jaromir Jagr made it out of Pittsburgh alive and took two points with him.
Jagr pulled off a Harry Houdini-like escape from the town he once called home by pulling off the most disarming stunt of all — scoring a goal.
With the vociferous Pittsburgh crowd eyeballing his every movement on the ice and letting out a lusty chortle every time he even breathed near the puck, Jagr skated into the teeth of the Consol Energy Center and the Penguins defense and beat Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury over the glove for a backhand goal in a 4-2 Flyers victory over their cross-state rival.
Jagr had missed on a handful of good chances prior to the goal, much to the delight of the denizens in the stands. But he netted his 12th goal of the season six minutes into the second period.
He then skated over to a fan who had been holding up signs against the glass and offered his trademark salute.
“She didn’t like it much,” Jagr said. “I have to do my salute and she was there. She didn’t salute me back.”
Well she did, but it was with four fewer fingers.
For Jagr, a Hollywood script couldn’t have been better written.
“I had a lot of chances,” Jagr said. “It was the most I’ve had in a game this year, (Claude Giroux) kept feeding me and I couldn’t score. It was probably meant to be. I did score a nice one though.”
And while Jagr could have scored five goals, he didn’t, but he did play surprisingly good defensive hockey as well. On one play he back-checked furiously to deny James Neal from getting a good scoring attempt.
“See that,” he said. “So, when all you guys vote for the Selke Trophy (best defensive forward), you remember to vote for me. Find the video of that play.”
In what was the final tuneup before the Winter Classic Monday when the Flyers play the New York Rangers with the possibility of first place in the Atlantic Division on the line, the Flyers concluded a five-game road trip by going 2-2-1.
Sergei Bobrovsky, who was tabbed for the start after another subpar performance by Ilya Bryzgalov in Tampa two nights earlier, was strong in net, turning aside 24 Pittsburgh shots.
“He was great, wasn’t he,” said coach Peter Laviolette. “(He gave up one early) but then it shows his mental toughness from there to come back to play so well and make so many big saves for us after that. He’s been good. You look at his recent starts and he’s been really good for us.”
Bobrovsky is now 4-0 against the Penguins in their new building, a place the Flyers have never lost.
“It doesn’t really make a difference that it’s Pittsburgh, I prepare every game and forget about past results,” Bobrovsky said through an interpreter. “I approach every game anew. It was very important to get this win, but generally it’s a great atmosphere in this building, great lighting. It’s a great arena.”
The game didn’t seem like it was going to go well for Bobrovsky, Jagr and the Flyers though as the Penguins took the lead just 44 seconds into the game when Jordan Staal banked the first shot of the game off of Bobrovsky’s arm and into the net.
But the Flyers answered on the power play, as Kimmo Timonen scored his first goal of the season, snapping a 35-game drought dating back to last April when he rocketed a one-timer past Fleury to tie the score.
Giroux, who set up Timonen’s goal, also assisted on Jagr’s goal giving him two points and allowed him to hang on to the NHL scoring lead (46 points) over several high scoring stars who had closed the gap on him, including Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin.
Matt Read snapped a nine-game drought of his own late in the second period when he followed up a Sean Couturier shot and put the rebound past Fleury for what amounted to the game-winner.
For Read, it was goal No. 12 for the season, which ranks just one behind Edmonton rookie Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for the most among NHL rookies.
“There’s a belief in the room that we can win here together,” said Scott Hartnell. “We’ve learned how to play against (Pittsburgh) and we’ve had success.”
Tyler Kennedy answered for Pittsburgh in the third period with a lethal wrister that beat Bobrovsky top shelf, but the Flyers goalie was equal to the Penguins rejuvenated offense during the rest of the third period.
Max Talbot, who was playing his first game back in Pittsburgh after leaving the Pens as a free agent last summer to sign with the Flyers, scored an empty-net goal to seal the victory.
“I’m really glad we got the two points,” Talbot said. “I don’t think it was a personal thing tonight. I think it was a team thing. We know how good a team Pittsburgh is and how close the standings are. I’m really glad to get the win here.”
Jaromir Jagr made it out of Pittsburgh alive and took two points with him.
NHL Hockey: Bruins snap skid against Pens with OT win
The surging Boston Bruins said they weren’t fazed by Sidney Crosby’s last-second goal. They proved it in overtime. Torey Krug scored 34 seconds into OT and the Bruins beat Pittsburgh 4-3 yesterday night, snapping a seven-game, regular-season losing streak to the Penguins in a matchup of the Eastern Conference’s top two teams.
NHL Hockey: Pens erupt in third to down Ducks
When Pittsburgh Penguins coach Dan Bylsma shuffled the lines in search of a spark for his slumping offense, putting Evgeni Malkin and rookie Brian Gibbons on the ice together wasn’t what he had in mind. Still, he’ll take it.
NHL Hockey: Colorado shuts down Crosby, Pens
Sidney Crosby left little doubt about who remains the best player from Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia. That’s fine by Nathan MacKinnon and the Colorado Avalanche. At the moment, they’ll settle for one of the best records in the NHL.
NHL Hockey: Crosby, Pens stay hot, drop Oilers 3-2
Evgeni Malkin stood in the right circle just watching the play unfold in front of him when the puck suddenly materialized on his stick with nary a soul around. The empty net never had a chance.
Penguins Hockey: Crosby, Fleury lead Pittsburgh past Devils
The Pittsburgh Penguins stuck with goalie Marc-Andre Fleury in the offseason, convinced two straight playoff meltdowns have not robbed the former Stanley Cup winner of his confidence. The early returns are promising.
Pens sign Kunitz to three-year extension
Sidney Crosby will keep at least one linemate around for the long haul. The Pittsburgh Penguins and forward Chris Kunitz agreed to a three-year contract extension on Thursday that could keep him playing alongside Crosby until the 2016-17 season.
Eastern Conference Finals: Bruins sweep Pens out of playoffs
The Bruins defense shut down the potent Pittsburgh Penguins throughout the Eastern Conference finals. Then a Boston defenseman scored the goal that sealed the stunning sweep.
Eastern Conference Finals: Pens face sweep as they fall to Bruins in two overtimes
Blowout or double-overtime thriller, the result is the same for the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference finals: a victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins and a chance to sweep the No. 1 seed out of the playoffs.
Eastern Conference Finals: Bruins crush Pens to take 2-0 lead
The Boston Bruins keep talking about fortunate bounces and a dash of luck, insisting the margin between themselves and the Pittsburgh Penguins is thin. At the moment, it looks like a chasm.
Eastern Conference Finals: Boston shuts down Pens in Game 1
The Boston Bruins insist they aren't trying to draw the high-flying Pittsburgh Penguins into a street fight. However, if one breaks out during the Eastern Conference finals, all the better.
- More Penguins Headlines
- NHL Hockey: Bruins snap skid against Pens with OT win