Stars end 2016 with loss to Panthers
DALLAS (AP) — Jaromir Jagr offered a brief wave to the Dallas crowd during a video tribute to Florida’s 44-year-old forward in the first period.
Then the No. 2 scorer in NHL history finished off a quick start that helped the Panthers end a four-game losing streak.
Jagr scored his 756th career goal and had an assist and the Panthers stopped Dallas’ season-best three-game winning streak with a 3-1 win in the Stars’ traditional New Year’s Eve home game Saturday night.
“He’s just timeless,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. “He’s a freak of nature in this business. To be competing the way he is at this age is incredible.”
Jagr, who passed Mark Messier for second on the career scoring list last week, gave the Panthers a 3-0 lead less than 17 minutes in. His seventh goal of the season chased goalie Antti Niemi, who faced 20 shots.
Florida goalie James Reimer, Roberto Luongo’s backup, got his fifth win in his 15th appearance, stopping 35 of 36 shots, including all 20 in the third period. He beat Dallas twice with Toronto last season.
“A lot of games when we lost in overtime or shootouts, you know we had the lead going into the third period,” Jagr said, referring to three straight OT losses in the recent skid. “And tonight it’s kind of like first time after a while we kept the lead. It wasn’t very pretty, but we kept the lead.”
Jagr, in his 24th NHL season, capped a quick two-goal spurt on a pair of power plays. The first came from former Dallas player Jussi Jokinen just six seconds after Jamie Benn was called for high-sticking.
Another 14 seconds after Jokinen’s goal, Lauri Korpikoski dumped a puck over the boards for a delay penalty, leading to Jagr’s shot through Niemi’s legs. Dallas matched a season high by allowing 22 shots in the first period while getting just six.
“We’ve just got to remember we can’t come out flat-footed in the first period,” said Dallas defenseman Jordie Benn. “Every team’s a strong team. They’ll take advantage of it if you come out flat.”
Jagr, who spent part of the 2012-13 season with Dallas, assisted on Florida’s first goal from Vincent Trocheck , who also had an assist. Jagr has 35 points in 34 career games against the Dallas franchise, including his first three seasons when it was still in Minnesota.
Kari Lehtonen replaced Niemi and stopped all 18 shots he faced. Two nights earlier, Lehtonen had to leave after a hit from Jarome Iginla in the Stars’ 4-2 win over Colorado. He was forced from the game by the NHL-mandated concussion protocol.
Jagr, who is third in career goals behind Wayne Gretzky and Gordie Howe, had two penalties in the second period, and the Stars converted the second into their only goal when Patrick Eaves pushed a rebound past Reimer .
Jamie Benn, who appeared to get injured on the goal and will be re-evaluated during the week, assisted along with Tyler Seguin as both high-scoring forwards extended their points streaks to four games.
The Stars had several strong chances while getting two more power plays in the third but couldn’t get anything past Reimer.
“I left out a few juicy rebounds sometimes and (his teammates) were all over it,” Reimer said. “I think they played phenomenal. You don’t win a game without your D-men and your teammates.”
NOTES: Dallas F Patrick Sharp returned after missing 12 games with a concussion. He had three shots in almost 16 minutes. … Jagr now has 1,891 points, four ahead of Messier (1,887) and 966 behind Gretzky (2,857). … The Stars’ four-game winning streak on New Year’s Eve ended, and they dropped to 12-5-2 since moving to Dallas. … Reimer has a 1.3 goals-against average and .966 save percentage in his three straight wins over the Stars.
Panthers: Continue a stretch of eight out of nine at home with the start of a three-game homestand Wednesday against Winnipeg.
Stars: Also in a stretch of eight out of nine at home, with the last game coming against Montreal on Wednesday. The Stars have registered at least a point in six of the eight games.