BROOKLYN, NY – There are only five players in NHL history who have amassed more than 200 points in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Four of them played for the 1980s Edmonton Oilers’ machine.
The other one is Jaromir Jagr, who notched No. 200 on Wednesday night with an assist.
We remember Gretzky, Messier, Kurri and Anderson not just for their offensive achievements but for their dynastic championships. Such is the focus for Jagr as he joined this elite group, setting up the Florida Panthers’ first goal in their 2-1 Game 4 win at the New York Islanders that knotted their divisional semifinal series at 2-2.
“To be honest with you: Do you remember who scored goals 10 years ago? I don’t. It’s everything about the Cup. Who cares who scored?” said Jagr.
“I want to help, of course. But no one remembers who scored next year. Only the champion.”
Jagr’s helper on Teddy Purcell’s goal was his first point of the 2016 postseason. His line has been dominant in the offensive zone at times, but had little to show for it. And for all of Jagr’s goal-scoring prowess in the regular season – proving to be better at 44 years old than many players are at 24 – the legend only has one goal in his last 37 postseason games, tallying 18 assists in that span.
“There’s a lot of guys counting on me to help, and I just don’t want to disappoint them. I just want to do the best for people who trust in me. That’s what I worry about. Nothing personal. Be here and help. That’s what I really worry about,” he said.
Jagr is one of the Panthers’ few players with deep playoff experience. Goalie Roberto Luongo is another, and his 26 saves back-stopped a strong road effort for the Panthers, who showed poise when faced with Game 4 adversity that they didn’t necessarily exhibit in their Game 3 OT loss.
Florida didn’t falter after Jonathan Huberdeau knocked the puck in the net and it was waved off through two video reviews. Florida didn’t falter when John Tavares scored late in the second period to tie the game.
“We’ve done a good job all year of not letting ourselves get affected by something that happens in the game, good or bad,” said Luongo. “These are two teams evenly matched. Every game has been tight. We have to go back home, and do the same thing we did tonight.”
There was no better example of the Panthers’ poise than on the game-winner from defenseman Alex Petrovic, who waited out the Islanders’ defense and fired it past goalie Thomas Greiss.
“The first guy that came at me, I waited him out a bit and he just went by. That’s when I slid’er by him, and went low blocks on Greiss,” he said of his third career goal of any manner in the NHL.
The Panthers won the game with “20 guys desperate to play a real good hockey game,” according to coach Gerard Gallant.
The Islanders, meanwhile, are wondering how they can get 17 of their players going. “We got one line [Tavares, Nielsen and Okposo] generating all of our offense right now," said coach Jack Capuano. "We have to find a way to get secondary scoring. If not, it’s going to be tough.”
It’s now a best of three series. There’s still time for heroes, both expected and unexpected.
Perhaps even one playing in his third decade of playoff hockey.
“I don’t force anything. I’ve scored enough goals,” said Jagr. “If I don’t score any, ever [again], I’ll be happy with my hockey career. I won’t worry about it.”
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