By Michael Blinn
Jaromir Jagr is no stranger to big-time goals -- the man has been a force in the NHL for over 1,400 games now -- and at the age of 41, he continues to come through in the clutch.
On Thursday, the Czech right winger scored his third game-winning goal of the season, lifting the Devils in overtime for a 2-1 win in Los Angeles.
The goal itself, besides being the deciding marker, is notable for a couple of reasons: Firstly, it puts him in some familiar company in the record books:
And secondly, he's just one clutch tally away from being on top of another list:
Jagr, brought in to replace some of the offense from the departed Ilya Kovalchuk, has nine goals and 18 points in 22 games to lead the Devils in both categories, and tie him for 23rd in the League in goals and 41st in overall scoring. In the team's past three games, he's scored four goals, and it's no coincidence that New Jersey has rattled off wins in all of them. They've improved to 7-3-1 in their last 11, climbing to third in the Metropolitan Division after a 2-5-4 start.
While Cory Schneider and Martin Brodeur have kept the Devils in most games with standout goaltending (the tandem ranks eighth, giving up 2.23 goals per game), the NHL's second-oldest player and one of the most consistent scorers in history must hope his recent play sparks his teammates. Offensively, they manage just 2.18 goals per game, 25th out of 30 teams, with only two other players totaling five goals or double-digit point totals.
As the record books can attest, the veteran forward is doing the job he's done for 18 seasons before this one, at least, and his 19th is looking no different, but six seasons after his last point-per-game season, is it enough to carry the Devils?