Jaromir Jagr didn’t need much time to become a fan favorite at Madison Square Garden.
Jagr, acquired from Washington on Friday for forward Anson Carter, would rather forget his first game in a Rangers’ uniform, as New York endured an embarrassing 9-1 loss at Ottawa on Saturday.
Jagr’s second game with the Rangers and first at Madison Square Garden against Florida on Monday turned out much better. He set up Brian Leetch’s tiebreaking score and added a third-period goal and an assist, helping New York end a four-game losing streak and a six-game winless skid (0-4-2) with a 5-2 victory.
“After the first game being a 9-1 loss, it’s kind of a big relief for me,” Jagr said after being chosen as the game’s first star. “I said before I came here that there was only one goal—to help the team.”
“We won, that’s all that matters. We needed that game,” Jagr said. “Hopefully we can continue and get on a winning streak. That’s what we need.”
With Mike Dunham still recovering from a mild concussion, backup Jussi Markkanen stopped 38 of 40 shots in his second straight start. Dunham, who has allowed 12 goals during three straight losses, could return Wednesday.
Jagr’s performance wasn’t the only good news Monday for the Rangers, who had center Jamie Lundmark in the lineup for the first time since he sprained two knee ligaments Dec. 4.
Trading Jagr figures to be the first of several deals by the disappointing Capitals, who are ahead of only Pittsburgh in the overall standings.
Washington lost its third straight game Sunday, 4-1 to visiting Philadelphia.
In addition to Jagr being gone, the Capitals also won’t have defenseman Sergei Gonchar in the lineup for at least a month. Gonchar, the NHL scoring leader among defensemen with 43 points, injured his shoulder in a 4-1 loss at Florida on Friday.
“I just have to take it easy and wait until it gets better,” Gonchar said. “There is nothing we can do for it, no treatment, nothing. I just have to rest it and hopefully I can come back in three or four weeks.”
At 14-29-5-2, Washington has its lowest win total after 50 games since it was 13-29-8 in 1981-82.
STANDINGS (through Jan. 26): Capitals - 35 points, 5th place, 20 PB, Southeast Division. Rangers - 49 points, 4th place, 16 PB, Atlantic Division.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through Jan. 26): Capitals - Power play: 20.3 percent (43 for 212), 4th in NHL. Penalty killing: 82.5 percent (189 for 229), 24th. Rangers - Power play: 14.3 percent (28 for 196), 20th. Penalty killing: 81.6 percent (200 for 245), 27th.
2002-03 SEASON SERIES: Capitals, 2-1-1.
LAST MEETING: Jan. 26, 2003; Capitals, 7-2. At Washington, Gonchar scored one power-play goal and assisted on three others to lead the Caps.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Capitals - 6-16-2-1 on the road; Rangers - 10-8-3-4 at home.