NEWARK, NEW JERSEY – Jaromir Jagr became the NHL’s leader in game-winning goals with a flashback to his heyday.
Stealing the puck at the blue line, Jagr skated the length of the ice, froze Tampa Bay goaltender Ben Bishop with a sleek move and deposited a second-period wrist shot into an open net to give the New Jersey Devils a 2-1 victory over the Lightning on Tuesday night.
The 684th goal of Jagr’s 20-year NHL career, gave him 119 game-winners, putting him one ahead of Hall of Famer Phil Esposito, who retired in 1971.
“I remember him, I was watching him in 1972,” Jagr said. “I wasn’t watching it live, I was just born in ’72. I was watching the tapes and he was the man back then.”
During his career, Jagr also once was the man. Those days are over and now he just enjoys playing, noting he didn’t even know he broke Esposito’s record.
“At least I have one record,” said Jagr, who also owns the record for overtime goals. “(Wayne) Gretzky has all the other ones. But it’s a big accomplishment. You have to be pretty lucky to score at the right time. That’s the way I think my body is built. I don’t get much tired so I was scoring a lot of goals in the third period. That’s why I got a lot of game-winning goals.”
Adam Henrique also scored and Martin Brodeur made 16 saves as the Devils won consecutive games for the first time this season and ended Tampa Bay’s three-game winning streak.
Steven Stamkos, who had three goals and four assists last week, scored a power-play goal for the Lightning, who had won five of six in posting the best record in the Eastern Conference.
New Jersey, which lost its first seven games of the season, rallied late to beat Boston on Saturday for its second win.
Brodeur, who preserved Tuesday’s win with a great reaction stop in front on Valtteri Filppula with five minutes to play, joked about Jagr being 41, just as he is.
“He’s been around a long time, longer than me actually, and that’s pretty tough to say,” Brodeur said. “This guy is amazing, the way he plays the game. I knew of him and played against him when I was younger . . . but what I have seen in his three months here, it’s pretty amazing to see him go.”
Jagr’s third goal of the season came midway through the second period when he stripped Martin St. Louis at the Devils’ blue line and broke in alone for a 2-0 lead. Both New Jersey goals came on turnovers at the blue line.
“On both goals we shot ourselves in the foot,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “We gave a first-ballot Hall of Famer a clear-cut breakaway from their blue line. There’s a really good bet that might go in the net.”
The Devils dominated the opening 35 minutes, jumping to a 1-0 lead at 1:36 of the second period when Henrique tallied short-handed against Bishop, who made 20 saves in losing for the second time this season.
Blues 3, Jets 2
In St. Louis, Alexander Steen scored a power-play goal with 59.4 seconds left to break a tie and Jaroslav Halak made 21 saves to lead the Blues to a win over the Jets.
Blackhawks 6, Senators 5
In Chicago, Jonathan Toews had three goals and an assist, Corey Crawford made 14 saves in relief of an ineffective Nikolai Khabibulin and the Blackhawks beat Ottawa.
Ducks 3, Flyers 2
In Philadelphia, Kyle Palmieri scored two straight goals in the third to rally Anaheim.
Canadiens 2, Stars 1
In Montreal, Rene Bourque scored in the second period and Carey Price made 26 saves and the Canadiens downed Dallas.
Rangers 3, Islanders 2
In Uniondale, New York, Benoit Pouliot and Ryan McDonagh scored third-period goals, and the Rangers rallied for a win over the Islanders.
Coyotes 3, Kings 1
In Glendale, Arizona, Mike Smith stopped 41 shots, Kyle Chipchura had a goal and an assist, and Phoenix rebounded from a messy loss to Los Angeles by beating the Kings.
Maple Leafs 4, Oilers 0
In Edmonton, Phil Kessel had two goals and two assists, leading Toronto past the Oilers for its second consecutive victory.