Jaromir Jagr tapped his stick on the ice. He wanted the puck. So Florida Panthers defenseman Dmitry Kulikov did what any sane player would do, which was to grant the request of one of the greatest goal-scorers in NHL history.
Jagr tipped the puck past Winnipeg Jets defenseman Ben Chiarot and goalie Michael Hutchinson for his 18th goal of the season at 4:53 of the second period on Saturday night. Much, much more importantly: It was goal No. 741 in his career, tying him for No. 3 all-time in the NHL with Hall of Famer Brett Hull.
Then, in the third period, history was made:
Jagr helped win the puck behind the Winnipeg net, chipping it over the Panthers teammate Jussi Jokinen. He sent the puck right back towards the crease where Jagr made a nifty play to corral it, before lifting it into the top of the net for goal No. 742, passing Hull for sole possession of No. 3 all-time in NHL goal scoring.
The Panthers won the game, 3-1.
Hull scored his 741 in 1,269 games during his NHL career, which spanned from 1987-2006. This was game No. 1,606 for Jagr, who started his career with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1990.
Leading up to the game, Jagr had downplayed catching Hull.
Hull scored his in 1,269 games during his NHL career, which spanned from 1987-2006. This was game No. 1,606 for Jagr, who started his career with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1990.
Leading up to the goal, Jagr had downplayed catching Hull.
"You know what, I don't even think about it. We just have to make sure we play good hockey and I play good hockey,” he told NHL.com. “If we're going to play good, it's just a matter of time before I score. I just have to make sure we play good."
Jagr has played quite well: Leading the Panthers in goals and points this season. At age 44, no less.
“What he’s accomplished as a forward and putting up those numbers is unreal. It doesn’t look like he’s slowing down one bit. The team is in first place, which gives him credit for what he’s contributed to that team,” said Hall of Fame defenseman Chris Chelios, who played with Hull on the Detroit Red Wings and played in the NHL until age 48.
“The fact that he went to Europe for three years and played in the KHL, it’s amazing that he came back and he’s doing what he’s doing.”
He trails Wayne Gretzky (894) and Gordie Howe (801) on the all-time goals list. Were it not for the lockouts and that stint in the KHL … well, it’s one of the great “What ifs?” in the history of pro sports. There’s no telling what his totals would be in the NHL.
Besides passing Hull, Jagr’s next feat will be catching Howe (1,850) in career points, as he’s currently five away (1,845).
Additional reporting by Josh Cooper/Yahoo Sports.
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