Age is no different to Jaromir Jagr and Ray Whitney than the numbers they wear on their jerseys.
The forty-somethings scored 4:22 apart in the third period, lifting Dallas to a 2-0 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday night for the Stars’ fourth straight win at Staples Center.
The 41-year-old Jagr and 40-year-old Whitney scored in the same game for the second time this season. On Jan. 19 against Phoenix, they became the fourth pair of teammates age 40 or older to score in the same game since 1942-43.
”Age doesn’t matter. It only matters how hard you work,” Jagr said.
Changes in the rules that have done away with much of hockey’s hooking and holding are helping the duo continue to play well.
”Any offensive guy who’s still playing at my age is here strictly because of the rule changes,” Whitney said. ”The holding and the clutching and grabbing that was part of the game before is gone. If it was still in there, you would see that old-school drafting of big mutants that were out there who would just hook and hold and muck it up.”
Kari Lehtonen made 40 saves to earn his first shutout of the season. He has won four of his last five appearances against the Kings.
The 29-year-old goalie enjoys watching Jagr and Whitney play.
”There were a couple of shifts where Kings guys tried to get the puck from Jagr and he was just keeping it. That’s something I was used to seeing on TV when I was a little kid,” he said. ”You think you work hard, and then you look at those guys. They do it at another level. I hope when I’m that age I have that same sort of joy for hockey.”
Lehtonen faced at least 40 shots for the fourth time this season and improved to 16-3-1 in games where opponents record at least 35 shots dating to last season.
”This is when your goalie comes and gets you,” Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said. ”Saves you in the first 40 and we picked it up in the last 20. In back-to-backs you need your goalie to be good and he was tonight.”
The Kings’ three-game winning streak ended as did their run of five straight wins at home since losing to the Stars 5-2 on March 7. Jagr scored twice in that game.
”It’s definitely harder to play on the defensive side of the puck. It’s taxing and they just found a little bit of momentum when they got that first goal,” Dustin Brown said.
Jonathan Quick stopped 19 shots for the Kings.
After two scoreless periods during which the Kings outshot the Stars 30-15, Jagr finally got his team untracked. He scored his team-leading 12th goal at 6:34, taking the puck wide and holding it before shooting and watching it bounce into the net.
”It felt like we had enough shots, just didn’t bury our chances,” Los Angeles’ Kyle Clifford said.
Whitney made it 2-0 at 10:56, beating Quick stickside for his fifth goal.
”I’m not even sure where it went in, whether it went above or under him,” Whitney said. ”He is fast, for sure, and he anticipates the play pretty well, so I wasn’t trying to pick a corner or anything. I was just trying to hit the net, and I guess I was fortunate he didn’t get it.”
Whitney extended his point streak to five games, with three goals and three assists. He returned earlier this month after missing 16 games with a foot injury.
”Not many guys in this league can hold the puck and wait for the guys to come into the play late, but he’s able to do it,” Jagr said. ”He’s got the quickness and he’s got big legs, so he can skate, and when you look at him, he’s always moving. That’s what makes him very dangerous. He hits the net all the time and doesn’t miss very often. Young guys should learn from him.”
NOTES: President Barack Obama will honor the Stanley Cup champion Kings and MLS Cup champion Los Angeles Galaxy at the White House on Tuesday. … Whitney turns 41 in May. … The Kings had won 11 of 12 at home since Feb. 15, with their only loss in that span against the Stars. … The Stars improved to 2-4-0 in the second game of back-to-backs, having lost 4-3 at Colorado on Wednesday after blowing a third-period lead.