Jaromir Jagr was all right with fellow Czech mate Milan Hejduk scoring in his 1,000th NHL Game.
A win, though, now that was out of the question.
Although Hejduk was the star of the night – complete with a pregame celebration to honor his milestone achievement – Jamie Benn scored two goals to spoil the festivities as he led the Dallas Stars to a 3-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche on Monday.
”That’s great to see. (Hejduk) truly deserves it,” said Jagr, who was teammates with Hejduk when the Czech Republic captured a gold medal at the 1998 Winter Games in Nagano and again when the country earned bronze at the 2006 Turin Olympics. ”That’s the way we wanted it – give him a goal, but we needed the points.”
Hejduk nearly sent this game into overtime. With the final seconds ticking down, the puck ended up on Hejduk’s stick.
He was unable to unleash a final shot in time.
”It’s kind of a little sour taste,” Hejduk said. ”But it’s still good to get 1,000 games.”
Brenden Morrow also scored for the Stars, and Kari Lehtonen made 29 saves as Dallas snapped the Avalanche’s three-game, home-winning streak.
”That was a good game to be in: Learn to play with the lead, learn to keep that lead,” Benn said. ”I thought our team did a good job.”
Benn came so close to a hat trick. With Semyon Varlamov on the bench for an extra skater in the final minute, Benn had the puck at center ice and faced an open net. But he shot just wide.
”Straight up missed the net,” Benn said. ”That’s about it. I just tried to shoot it as quick as possible.”
There was a scary moment early in the game when referee Chris Rooney was hit by a puck after a shot by Dallas defenseman Jamie Oleksiak deflected off the skate of Colorado’s Paul Stastny.
The puck appeared to carom off the neck of Rooney, who stayed down behind the Avalanche net. Rooney eventually got up and skated off the ice.
Sam Singleton, an NHL security representative, said Rooney ”checked out OK,” but he didn’t have any details. The Avalanche had no additional update.
Benn and Morrow staked the Stars to a 2-0, first-period lead before either team really had a chance to settle in. Morrow’s first of the season was set up by Jagr, who has at least one point against the Avalanche in seven straight games – a streak dating to 2002.
Dallas had a chance to extend its early lead, but couldn’t score despite having a 5-on-3 advantage for a full two minutes.
Late in the first period, the Avalanche got on the board when Hejduk gathered a rebound and put it past Lehtonen.
Only fitting, since it was Hejduk’s night. He became just the 30th player to reach the 1,000-game milestone with the same organization. He is the first to do so with Colorado.
Joe Sakic played in 1,378 games for the organization, but 508 were with the Quebec Nordiques and 870 after the team relocated to the Mile High City in 1995.
There was a video tribute before the game for Hejduk, along with Sakic presenting Hejduk with a silver hockey stick. The Avs also rolled the red carpet onto the ice so his wife and twin boys could join him.
Hejduk still remembers his first game – a 4-3 loss to Ottawa on Oct. 10, 1998, in which he had a goal and an assist.
”I didn’t know if I’d ever get here, and yet here I am,” said Hejduk, who was picked in the fourth round of the 1994 draft. ”Pretty happy that I played for one organization; that’s definitely special.”
Making the honor all the more meaningful was the presence of Jagr, who is also from the Czech Republic.
”The best player in the history of the game there,” Hejduk said. ”Look at his numbers, I haven’t achieved half of what he did.”
Still, Hejduk, who will turn 37 on Valentine’s Day, is three points shy of joining Jagr (1,659) and Patrik Elias (901) as the only Czech-born players in NHL history to reach 800 points.
”I’ve had a lot of good memories,” Hejduk said. ”When I retire and look back and look at your accomplishments, this will be one of the big ones.”
NOTES:The Stars activated F Derek Roy (groin) and G Cris Nilstorp (groin) from the injured list. Nilstorp and D Jordie Benn were sent to the Texas Stars of the AHL. … Avs captain Gabriel Landeskog (head and leg) missed his fifth straight game. … F David Jones (knee) might return to practice as soon as Tuesday. He has missed two games. … Avs F P.A. Parenteau scored a goal for a third straight game. … With Rooney missing, the lone referee on the ice was Justin St. Pierre, along with two linesmen.