BOSTON, MA - The cheers rained down on Jaromir Jagr when he took the ice for warm-ups for the first time in the spoked-B. But the "JA-GR, JA-GR" chants 'round TD Garden followed not too long after, as Jagr skated through the goal celebration fist bump line on Boston's home bench for the first time in his 20-year NHL career.
And it proved to be the game-winner, en route to a 1-0 shutout of the New Jersey Devils in his debut as a Boston Bruin.
"I appreciate it," a smiling Jagr told a hoard of media surrounding his stall in the locker room postgame. The 41-year-old has always been on the opposing bench, and had never experienced the Original Six aura of the Black & Gold.
"I didn’t know the fans love hockey so much here in Boston - this is a different level."
The night's lone goal wasn't one of Jagr's highlight reel tallies from years past - but it pulled out the win.
"Sometimes you have to be lucky to score, and I think that’s the first time I scored with my leg I guess," laughed Jagr. "When I was 25, I wouldn’t have liked that goal, but at 41 I’ll take anything right now."
"I knew it was coming. They always said, ‘You’ve got to drive to the net,’ and now I understand why they were saying that," said Jagr. "And I never really drive to the net - now I know why."
"If I knew it when I was 20 I would have a hundred more goals by now," he smiled.
Coach Julien wasn't calling it lucky goal; he was labeling it the result of the aspect of the game he stresses the most with his players - driving the net.
"He played his game and his goal was something that we like to see, and it’s called net drive," said Coach. "It doesn’t have to be a highlight goal, but he was heading to the net and he wasn’t going to get pushed to the side, and it went off his skate and in."
"So, that’s a good example for the rest of the younger guys on the team to take from a guy who’s still doing it at that age."
As Jagr's counterpart Brad Marchand on the line centered by Tyler Seguin powered down the left wing, the big body drove to the net and saw Marchand's cross-ice pass go right off his left skate and in behind Martin Brodeur for the 1-0 lead just 1:20 into the second period.
"Yeah, I saw him going to the net there. He was going hard, and actually Segs was open on the other side and that’s kind of what I was going for," said Marchand, who joked on the bench postgame that his plan was to aim it right at Jagr's skate and in. "But it turned out good."
That it did, as Tuukka Rask put up 40 saves for his third shutout of the season and the 14th of his career - and Jagr's tally (assist to his left skate) gave him his 15th of the season and the B's their 24th win.
Named the night's No. 1 Star, the winger skated onto TD Garden ice to cheers yet again as the scoreboard still showed his first tally in Black & Gold.
A goal is a goal - and Jagr is now the leading scorer on the Bruins.
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