Jagr, Hartnell Finally Get on the Board to Lead Flyers
For a team struggling to find ways to score goals as of late -especially on home ice – Monday’s 4-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs featured some positives in the scoring department. Two players who are being counted on to produce, but hadn’t lit the lamp yet this year, provided all the offense the Flyers would need.
Jaromir Jagr and Scott Hartnell each posted their first two goals of the young season, accounting for the entire Philadelphia offensive output in the victory. Jagr scored the first and last goals of the game, which were book-ended around Hartnell’s pair.
It was Hartnell’s 22nd career two-goal game, and the 114th two-goal game of Jagr’s illustrious career.
“It’s nice to get those guys on the board,” said head coach Peter Laviolette. ”I’ve said to you earlier, Jaromir had a lot of chances in the early games and lots of opportunites and their line was good. Hartzy’s (Hartnell’s) now had two solid games in a row, with tonight being his best one. It’s good to get those guys going, sure.”
Jagr’s goals were identical, almost instant replays of one another. Both were scored on breakaways, with the right winger sprung past the Leafs’ defense by excellent passes – the first was by Claude Giroux while on the power play late in the opening period to tie the game, and the second was from Hartnell as the teams skated at even strength late in the third to provide the final margin of victory.
On both goals, Jagr showed a burst of speed to get separation from the defense, skated in on net, and instead of making a move on Toronto’s Jonas Gustavsson, ripped wrist shots past the stick side of the goaltender with deadly accuracy.
“I will take Jagr on any goalie in the league, any time,” Hartnell said of #68′s tallies. ”It was almost a carbon copy of his first goal.”
Jagr also had another breakaway in the second period in which he attempted to deke Gustavsson. ”The Monster” won that one-on-one battle, kicking out the right pad to thwart Jagr as he went with a forehand along the ice.
“I had three breakaways today,” he said in assessment of his game. ”The first one I scored, the second one I tried to do something different. I thought maybe if I would shoot, I would have a chance to score. The third one, I said ‘Why change something that is working?’ And he was cheating a little bit. I think he lifted a leg there, but I kind of waited a little longer and I had a spot there.”
“You don’t want to see Jaromir Jagr coming in alone with nobody around him, he is going to more than likely bury it,” said Leafs’ coach Ron Wilson. ”(The second goal was) Another breakaway, we had them on the full court press. He’s a fantastic player when he gets time and space like that.”
The 39-year-old who played the past three seasons in Russia in the KHL, had been the club’s goal-scoring leader in exhibition games. That’s why the lack of finishing his opportunities was so puzzling once the regular season began.
“I think everyone has to be a little bit patient,” said Hartnell of the expectations placed on Jagr after a fantastic training camp. ”He had a great preseason and everyone was expecting him to get 50 goals in 50 games. It’s not reality. It’s nice to see him get a couple tonight, and hopefully we keep on rolling.”
With all of those high hopes weighing on his shoulders, Jagr was more relieved than anything.
“Truly, I needed it,” Jagr said of the two-goal game. ”I feel a lot better right now than I have, that’s for sure. I changed everything; the skate, gloves.”
Jagr has been noticeably pressing over the past couple of contests, and his game suffered. But tonight, the Czech-native had more jump and hit the open lanes. He led all skaters with six shots on goal.
Like Jagr’s, Hartnell’s first also came while the Flyers were skating with a man advantage. Danny Briere wheeled in the left wing corner and found the left wing alone in front of the Maple Leafs’ net. Hartnell fanned on his first shot attempt, then slid to the ice and jammed the puck past Gustavsson.
“Yeah, its nice to get one,” Hartnell said of finally getting on the board this season. ”Even if I had to get on my knees and shovel it in under his (Gustavsson’s) pad.”
The Flyers were up, 2-1 heading into the third period, and Hartnell would again strike. This time Giroux got him the puck at the left faceoff circle, where he took a swipe at the puck and chipped it up over Gustavsson’s stick side shoulder and under the crossbar.
“Both of my goals…you go to the net hard,” Hartnell explained about the way he is most effective. ”It’s not the first one that goes in often, it’s the second and third whack at it.”
Hartnell made the most of his chances, as he scored on his only two shots on Toronto’s goal of the night. After struggling mightily and being relegated to the third line for a stretch of games – in which he saw just about 10 minutes of ice time per game – Laviolette’s move of Hartnell to the first line on the left of Giroux and Jagr is paying dividends.
After Jagr’s first goal, he did something the NHL hasn’t seen in a long, long time. Since his days in Pittsburgh, as a matter of fact. He did “the salute”.
“In 15 years, no one has done it, so I thought it would be kind of nice to do it again after 15 years.”
Some of his teammates even had a friendly bet as to if he would pull the move out of storage or not.
“We were wondering,” said Hartnell. ”We had a little wager on the side on whether he was going to do it or not. He hasn’t lost a step with that and he had a big grin on his face.”
Another thing Jagr is glad about is he won’t have to answer any more questions from the media about scoring his first goal as a Flyer.
“Yeah, you guys aren’t going to ask me anymore,” he chuckled. ”I’m glad it was tonight.”