BOSTON (AP) — Jaromir Jagr’s first goal in a Boston uniform was not one he will brag about at the end of his Hall of Fame career.
It was all the Bruins needed to win in his debut, though.
Jagr deflected the puck into the net off his skate for the game’s only goal, and Tuukka Rask stopped 40 shots for his third shutout of the season on Thursday night as Boston beat the New Jersey Devils 1-0.
“They always say you’ve got to drive to the net. Now I know why,” said the 41-year-old forward, who has 680 goals in his 19-year career and 15 this season for the Stars and Bruins combined. “If I’d known when I was 20, I’d have 100 more goals now.”
Acquired from Dallas this week shortly before the trade deadline, Jagr joined the Bruins for the pregame skate Thursday morning and quickly endeared himself to the Boston fans. Brad Marchand’s centering pass went off Jagr’s left skate and past Martin Brodeur to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead with 80 seconds gone in the second period.
Fans, some wearing mullet wigs, gave Jagr a standing ovation when he took the ice for his first shift in the first period and chanted his name after the goal. Jagr skipped the military salute he traditionally uses to celebrate a goal, saying he would save it for the playoffs.
“Or if I score a good goal,” he said. “Not with my leg.”
Rask earned his 14th career shutout with some help from the crossbar and the post that foiled Dainius Zubrus and David Clarkson, respectively.
Brodeur made 25 saves for the defending Eastern Conference champions, who fell into ninth and out of playoff position when the New York Islanders went into overtime with the Capitals on Thursday.
“I’d be lying if I said we don’t know where we are in the playoffs. But we’re not thinking about it (every) game,” Devils defenseman Andy Greene said. “If we play 11 more games like this, I think we’ll give ourselves the best chance to continue to play.”
With the win, the Bruins kept pace with Montreal, which beat Winnipeg 4-1 later Thursday to maintain a one-point lead in the Northeast Division.
Jagr, 41, is 10th on the NHL career list with 1,680 points over a 19-year career in which he established himself as a star alongside Mario Lemieux with the Pittsburgh Penguins while winning the Stanley Cup in his first two seasons. After stints with the Capitals, Rangers, Flyers and Stars, Dallas sent him to Boston on Tuesday for two prospects and a draft pick.
His presence became even more important for the 2011 Stanley Cup champions when first-line center Patrice Bergeron sustained a concussion on Tuesday night — at least the fourth of his NHL career. Bergeron, who leads the Bruins with 31 points in 35 games, is out indefinitely.
“In the morning skate, it was a little nerve-racking being out there with him,” Marchand said. “Just felt like you’ve got to give it to him all the time and watch him do his thing. We grew up watching this guy, and he was the best player throughout my childhood. It was an honor to watch him.
“A little different playing with him now, but a lot of fun.”
Jagr played on a line with Marchand and Tyler Seguin. In addition to his somewhat inadvertent goal, he whiffed on a backhand with an open shot at the net midway through the second period, and had another open net in the third, when his sweeping shot was blocked by a sprawling defenseman.
Jagr said he has to get better, and Bruins coach Claude Julien expressed confidence that he would.
“He did a good job for a guy that just arrived yesterday,” Julien said. “His goal was something we like to see. It’s called `net drive.’ It’s a good example for the rest of the younger guys in that room to see from a guy of that age.”
New Jersey had some good shots on Rask after pulling Brodeur in the final minutes, but Boston was able to protect the lead.
Notes: The Bruins have beaten the Devils six consecutive times. … After Zubrus and Clarkson hit the crossbar in the second period, the Boston fans responded by chanting Rask’s name. … Jagr and Brodeur were both drafted in 1990. Jagr was the No. 5 overall pick by the Penguins and Brodeur was taken 20th by the Devils.
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