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Historic opening for Jagr, Maple Leafs

by John Kreiser /

Jaromir Jagr didn't need long to make history.

Jagr, who made his NHL return Thursday with the Philadelphia Flyers after three seasons in Russia, needed less than a period to get his 1,600th NHL point, an assist on the Flyers' first goal in a 2-1 season-opening victory at Boston. More notably, it was the 31st point he's scored in a season-opener, breaking a tie with Hall of Famer Ray Bourque for the all-time lead in opening-night scoring. Joe Sakic and Wayne Gretzky are next with 27 points.

Jagr also became the ninth player in NHL history to reach the 1,600-point mark. He's now 41 behind Sakic for eighth place.

The 39-year-old Jagr was a big reason the Flyers won their season opener on the road for the third year in a row. They might have been lucky to have their first game under their belts as they head for Newark and a Saturday night date with the Devils. New Jersey will be playing for the first time -- and the Devils' franchise is 12-1-6 when playing its opener at home.

Deep disparity -- Should Vancouver fans have been concerned when their comeback against Pittsburgh on Thursday didn't end with an overtime victory? You bet.

Vancouver rallied from a 3-1 deficit to tie the Penguins at 3-3 in the third period, but after a scoreless overtime, the Pens scored twice in the shootout to win it 2-0 and escape with a 4-3 win. Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury stopped both shots he faced and now owns a career 28-15 record and a .765 save percentage -- third all-time among goaltenders who have faced at least 100 shots.

Roberto Luongo
Goalie - VAN
RECORD: 0-0-1
GAA: 2.77 | SVP: 0.893
In contrast, Vancouver's Roberto Luongo was beaten by Kris Letang and Evgeni Malkin on Thursday, and now owns a 23-28 record in his 51 shootouts -- the 28 losses are the most in shootout history.

Pittsburgh also won via shootout in Vancouver in December 2007 -- also with Letang getting the winner against Luongo.

Ducks fly together -- The only thing different about this opening night for the Anaheim Ducks is how far they had to travel -- to Helsinki, Finland.

Being away from home for their season-opener is nothing new for the Ducks. Friday's opener against the Buffalo Sabres will mark the 14th time in their 18 opening games that the Ducks have started the season away from the Honda Center.

Not surprisingly, the Ducks haven't fared well in their openers -- their .235 winning percentage (4-13-0) is the worst of any of the NHL's 30 teams in Game 1's. That includes a 2-11-0 mark on the road, where they've been outscored exactly by exactly a 2-to-1 ratio, surrendering 42 goals while scoring just 21.

The Ducks enter the new season with the longest active opening-night losing streak -- four games, three short of the record of seven (1993-99) they share with Dallas, which lost its openers from 1972-78 while based in Minnesota.

Home, sweet home -- One of the few teams that can rival the Ducks in terms of opening on the road is the New York Islanders, who have played 32 of their 38 season-openers away from Long Island. But the schedule-maker has been kinder to them in recent seasons. The Isles will begin their season Saturday at home against the Florida Panthers -- the third season in a row they've started at home. Before that, they had played their first game at home just four times.

Opening against the Panthers at home is a lot better than doing it on the road: Florida is 5-0-2 in the seven season-openers it has played at home -- the Panthers are the only team that has gotten at least a point in every opener at home.

The Isles actually begin their season with four consecutive home games. It's their longest homestand at the start of a season since they entered the NHL in 1972 by playing their first seven games at home.

In Game 709, a first -- The 709th regular-season meeting between the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs also was the 13th time Canada's two Original Six teams have met on opening night -- and it produced a first.

The Leafs' 2-0 victory at Air Canada Centre on Thursday marked the first time Toronto has shut out the Canadiens on opening night (the Habs have done it twice to the Leafs). It also prevented the Canadiens from becoming the first team in NHL history to reach the 50-win mark on opening night -- Montreal fell to 49-28-17 in its 94 openers. The Leafs, who have lost more than any other team on opening night, improved to 36-41-17.

Good omen -- The Edmonton Oilers don't open their season until Sunday, when they host the Pittsburgh Penguins. Though the teams finished at opposite ends of the standings last season, the Oilers do have a good-luck charm working for them.

Oilers coach Tom Renney's overall record is just 228-215-9-58 -- but he's a perfect 7-0 on opening night, including Edmonton's 4-0 victory against Calgary last season. Renney won twice in season-openers with Vancouver and four times with the New York Rangers, in addition to last season's win with the Oilers.

In contrast, Chicago fans might want to be leery as the Hawks prepare for their opener in Dallas. Not only are the Hawks just 15-21-7 when they open the season on the road, but coach Joel Quenneville has won just once in 12 openers -- his teams are 1-6-5.
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