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Jaromir Jagr not slowing down at 45

Goal against Ducks on Friday latest example of Panthers forward's greatness

by Lisa Dillman @reallisa / Staff Writer

ANAHEIM -- Consider, for a moment, the generational implications.

Jaromir Jagr first played against Dave Manson in the NHL in 1990 when Jagr was a rookie with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Manson, a rugged and effective defenseman, was with the Chicago Blackhawks.

Flip the pages of the calendar -- OK, many, many pages -- and transport to Friday at Honda Center. There was the age-defying Jagr, at 45, playing against the Anaheim Ducks and defenseman Josh Manson, the 25-year-old son of Dave.

In fact, Josh wasn't even born when his father first played against Jagr.

The same holds true for many of Jagr's Florida Panthers teammates.

"He's been doing it since all of us were kids," Panthers defenseman Keith Yandle said.

Video: FLA@ANA: Jagr steals puck and scores after nice dekes

Yandle is 30.

The NHL is populated with victims of Jagr's skill. Josh Manson joined the long list at 6:58 of the second period of the Panthers' 4-1 victory against the Ducks.

Manson tried to carry the puck from behind the net and lost it at his feet. Jagr swooped in, stole the puck and cut to the front of the net. He dazzled with a series of moves before finishing by going backhand to forehand to beat goaltender John Gibson.

An update for those NHL career totals for Jagr: Goal No. 760, point No. 1,901 and game-winning goal No. 135. Jagr, who turned 45 on Wednesday, became the second player to score a game-winning goal after turning 45, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

The other player to record a game-winner after turning 45 was defenseman Chris Chelios, who did so at age 46 when he was with the Detroit Red Wings, in 2008.

Ducks defenseman Sami Vatanen remembered a feeling of futility against Jagr even before he played against him in the NHL.

"Of course he has the longest stick I've ever seen," Vatanen said. "He's very good protecting the puck there. I remember I played my first World Championships in (2010) and he was in front of the net and I was 160 pounds and tried to push him away and had no chance."

With all the postgame buzz about Jagr's dazzle, Yandle made a point to broaden the praise, saying that he does it "the right way in all three zones."

Video: FLA@SJS: Jagr gets 1,900th NHL point on 45th birthday

Jagr's experience was useful, along with captain Derek MacKenzie's, after the Ducks went ahead 1-0 on a shorthanded goal by Andrew Cogliano at 2:45 of the second period. The Panthers, 6-1-0 in their past seven games, moved within one point of the second wild-card berth into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference. They face the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday at Staples Center (10 p.m. ET; FS-W, FS-F, NHL.TV)

"It's a poised group on the bench," said Tom Rowe, the Panthers' general manager and coach. "They don't usually get too panicked. That's where {Jagr] comes in and Derek MacKenzie and the veteran guys. They keep the young kids calm."

Earlier Friday, at the morning skate, Ducks coach Randy Carlyle referenced the parts of three seasons Jagr played for the Washington Capitals.

"He was a different player in '02 and '03 when I was in Washington as an assistant, and that was the first experience I had with Jags and I would say he's a different person and a different athlete now," Carlyle said. "He's obviously taken the directions which people were trying to direct him in at that point. It took a little while for it to sink in."

Carlyle, for the record, wasn't one of the "people" trying to direct Jagr in those days.

"It wasn't really my responsibility," Carlyle said. "It was Bruce Cassidy's responsibility, and that was his first coaching stint in Washington. Jags had 75 points, and he played in a position where [it was] 'Get me the puck. I'm over here.'

"And he delivered. He continues to deliver offense."

No one knew that better on Friday than the Ducks and Josh Manson.

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