Toothless Jagr Finds Gap in Goal

Tuesday, October 30th 2007, 8:16 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) _ Goal scoring has been like pulling teeth for the New York Rangers this season.

Through the first 10 games, the so-called, high-powered offense that boasts Jaromir Jagr, Brendan Shanahan, Scott Gomez and Chris Drury, mustered only 16 goals and two wins.

On Monday night, in a much-needed 3-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning, the scorers broke out after Jagr's teeth were knocked out.

Jagr snapped a third-period tie with his third goal of the season, and Shanahan padded the lead 2:44 later with his second.

``These are the backs that we're going to ride,'' Rangers coach Tom Renney said of the two 600-goal scorers. ``These are important people to us because of their experience, the winning that they've done, because they can play and we need them to. Maybe within them they said, 'OK, finally.'''

Jagr flashed a toothless grin on the bench not long before he made a full house of frustrated Rangers fans erupt in cheers with the first of the two critical power-play goals.

In the second period, Jagr took a shot in the mouth either from the stick of a Lightning defenseman, or Gomez's stick, or the puck. The captain didn't know, and didn't seem all that concerned.

Blood was still visible around his swollen mouth after the game.

As Tampa Bay center Vincent Lecavalier prepared for a penalty shot that would be the only drive to elude New York goalie Henrik Lundqvist, Shanahan went looking for Jagr's missing three teeth.

He found them, but said they didn't seem real. Jagr smiled when asked if they were natural, and after a pause said, ``Gentlemen never tell.''

``He'll have to eat soup,'' Lundqvist said. ``He didn't look too good. That's the face of a warrior.''

In other NHL games, it was: Washington 7, Toronto 1; and San Jose 4, Dallas 2.

Shanahan and Jagr team up on projects other than tooth recovery. After a particularly disheartening 4-1 home loss to Toronto on Saturday, the likely Hall of Famers spent nearly three hours in the otherwise empty dressing room talking about how to improve the offense _ especially the power play.

They came up with ideas and put them in play Sunday during a practice session hastily scheduled by Renney the night before on what was supposed to be an off day for the team.

``We walked out of here about midnight. The game ended around 9:30,'' Shanahan said. ``The next day we had the opportunity to practice it. It looked good in practice and it was nice to have immediate success on it.''

Jagr's hard one-timer appeared to strike Shanahan's skate on its way past goalie Johan Holmqvist with 9:15 left. More than an hour after the game, NHL officials were still checking high-definition replays to try to determine exactly who deserved credit.

Either struggling scorer would've been happy to take it.

``Broken skate, broken glove, broken teeth. What a night,'' Jagr said. ``Break my skate, first period. Second, my glove. Then my teeth.

``It's Halloween tomorrow. I don't have to buy a mask.''

There were smiles all around the Rangers dressing room after the game that produced as many goals as they'd scored in four previous contests combined.

The two late goals secured New York's second win in seven games (2-4-1). Nigel Dawes netted the first for the Rangers, who have scored an NHL-low 19 goals.

Lecavalier netted his sixth of the season, but the Lightning _ 5-0-1 at home _ fell to 0-4 on the road as they started a three-stop trip in the New York area.

Their best player was Holmqvist, who made 32 saves but couldn't overcome four penalties taken by his teammates in the third.

``Our goalie gives us a chance after two periods and we can't put 20 minutes of disciplined, hard hockey together,'' coach John Tortorella said in an expletive-filled tirade. ``We were not even close. We don't deserve anything. We spend more time looking at referees for calls, instead of playing.

``It's very frustrating to see one guy show up.''

Lundqvist rebounded from the loss to Toronto with a 21-save effort and allowed one goal or fewer for the fourth time in five games.

``We've been playing great as a team but you want to feel like it pays off, too,'' he said. ``And it finally did. It's easy to stay patient when you know it's going to pay off.''

On the sixth penalty shot of Lecavalier's career, he skated down the middle as Lundqvist drifted in front of his crease. Lecavalier glided to his right, went to his backhand and slid a shot back between Lundqvist's pads to tie it at 6:28.

Capitals 7, Maple Leafs 1

Alex Ovechkin scored his seventh and eighth goals, and five Washington players got their first in a victory over host Toronto.

Brian Sutherby, Matt Bradley, Jeff Schultz, Matt Pettinger and Boyd Gordon scored for the Capitals, who got three assists from Michael Nylander.

Alexei Ponikarovsky had the goal for the Maple Leafs, who have allowed an NHL-high 51 goals.

Sharks 4, Stars 2

Devin Setoguchi scored two goals in the third period of his first NHL game to rally visiting San Jose.

Steve Bernier gave San Jose a 4-2 lead 17 seconds after Setoguchi scored goals 2:34 apart.

Dallas' Mike Modano moved within one point of tying the NHL record for most by a U.S.-born player with a second-period assist.