When the New Jersey Devils signed Jaromir Jagr to a one-year contract this past summer, they weren't sure what they were going to receive out of the 41-year-old likely Hall of Fame player.
All Jagr has done is lead the Devils in goals, assists and points, playing vintage hockey while surpassing all expectations. On Saturday in Washington DC, Jagr added another milestone to his rapidly growing list of platitudes.
Jagr moved into a tie for seventh place on the NHL all-time goals list with No. 694 of his career. He tied Mark Messier when he scored 5:28 into the third period against the Washington Capitals, his 13th goal this season and his second in three games after going eight without scoring. Andy Greene sent a pass from behind the net during a Devils power play, and Jagr converted from the left of goalie Braden Holtby.
Messier played 25 seasons in the League. Jagr is in his 20th and is still going strong. He equaled his season-high with a three-point night against the Capitals.
"I played with Mark, not for long, but I had a chance to play with him with the New York Rangers," said Jagr after the Devils rallied from two goals down in the third period to defeat the Capitals, 5-4, in overtime. "He's a great player, a great person. He accomplished a lot in the NHL. To be able to tie him is a big honor. Any players you tie that are in the NHL, it's a big honor for me."
Led by Jagr, and Greene's game winner in the extra session, the Devils moved to .500 (15-15-7) and within three points of the Toronto Maple Leafs for seventh place in the Eastern Conference. Basking in the glow of his milestone, Jagr chose to focus more on what was a bit comeback win for New Jersey.
"Today, I felt like we were playing very good hockey the first two periods, and I look at the scoreboard and we were down 3-1," Jagr said. "That was kind of tough to swallow but we got some lucky bounces in the third period and tied the game and went to overtime again. I thought we responded very well when we were down two goals, and it's a big win for us. We needed to get points to get back to the .500 mark."
Next on the League's all-time list is Mike Gartner at 708.
"He amazes me every night we come to the rink," Devils coach Pete DeBoer said. "I don't have a lot more adjectives to describe him. He's a pleasure to work with."
Three nights ago, Jagr passed Steve Yzerman for eighth place and broke Gordie Howe's League record for career-game winning goals with 122. He overtook former Pittsburgh Penguins teammate Mario Lemieux in goals earlier this season, and his 1,721 career points, are two behind Lemieux for seventh all-time. Furthermore, his 1,027 assists are six behind Lemieux for 10th place.
"I seems like every night there's somebody new," Devils forward Adam Henrique said. "Obviously he's an amazing player, but he's a leader here. He talks to a lot to different guys. He's a good guy in the room. He keeps the room light. It's nice to have him on our side."
Prior to the season, Greene told NHL.com he was "glad it will only have to be in practice when I defend him." He knew Jagr would be an asset to the Devils, but now believes he's been better than advertised.
"You hear stories about how he's a great guy," Greene said. "You just have to go into it with an open mind and he's been unbelievable."