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Panthers defeat Capitals; Jagr scores to tie Dionne

by Alain Poupart /

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Jaromir Jagr scored his 731st NHL goal Thursday to tie Marcel Dionne for fourth place in League history when the Florida Panthers defeated the Washington Capitals 4-1 at BB&T Center.

"He had some chances before that, but tonight it's good to get that goal," Panthers coach Gerard Gallant said. "He's going to score more goals for us over his career, but tonight I'm sure he's pretty excited."

Brandon Pirri, Aaron Ekblad and Logan Shaw scored for Florida (14-11-4), which defeated Washington in regulation for the first time in 15 games. Jonathan Huberdeau had two assists.

Al Montoya made 20 saves and came within 2:08 of his sixth career shutout.

"[Montoya]���played out of this world, played great,"���Ekblad said. "He seemed very confident. The way he was playing the puck, it was awesome."

Alex Ovechkin scored for Washington (19-6-2), and Philipp Grubauer, making his first start in nine games, made 22 saves.

The Capitals were 7-0-1 in their past eight games, and 12-0-2 in their past 14 against the Panthers.

Each of the previous eight games between the Capitals and Panthers was decided by one goal, and four of them went to a shootout.

Washington came in with the third-ranked power play in the NHL���but went 0-for-5 with the man-advantage.

"We never really did (get going),"���Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. "I thought they had more of the battles, they got the saves when they needed to, timely saves. We had some good looks, fair chances on the power play, and didn't find the back of the net. When you don't, you're chasing the game the whole time."

Jagr scored 51 seconds into the first period on the first shot of the game, tipping Dmitry Kulikov's wrist shot from the point.

"I was waiting for a long time,"���said Jagr, who ended an eight-game goal drought. "I had some chances;���I just couldn't score. I'm glad it's behind me. Every record looks like there's a big karma around it and it's tough to break it. It's not the first time that I���was stuck on a number. It's always like that. The great players, there's great charisma and great karma around it ... it's like a huge wall."

It was the fastest opening goal for the Panthers this season, topping Vincent Trocheck's goal at 1:23 in their season opener against the Philadelphia Flyers on Oct. 10.

Jagr, 43, is 10 goals behind Brett Hull for third place. Wayne Gretzky's 894 goals are most in NHL history, 93 more than Gordie Howe.

Jagr, who made his NHL debut on Oct. 5, 1990, has played 1,577 games with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Capitals, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Dallas Stars, Boston Bruins, New Jersey Devils and Panthers.

Dionne scored his 731 goals in 1,348 games with the Detroit Red Wings, Los Angeles Kings and Rangers. He last played in the 1988-89 season.

Jagr missed three NHL seasons playing in the Kontinental Hockey League from 2008-11.

Pirri made it 2-0 with a power-play goal at 9:16 of the second period. He beat Grubauer on the glove side with a one-timer from the top of the right circle.

"The PK���������was good, the power play had a big goal for us,"���������Gallant said. "Special teams were key for us tonight."

Washington forward Tom Wilson was assessed a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct early in the third period for boarding Brian Campbell, who left the game for a short time.

After Kulikov went to the penalty box for tripping to put each team down a skater, Ekblad made it 3-0 at 7:19 when he redirected Huberdeau's saucer pass on a 2-on-1.

"Honestly, I���������thought it was going to bounce over my stick or something, so I���������just tried to whack at it,"���������Ekblad said. "I���������don't know how that happened, but it's good."

Montoya won against Washington for the first time in six games. He was 0-2-2 against the Capitals with a 2.51 goals-against average and an .897 save percentage.

Montoya made his best saves on Washington power plays. He got his arm on a close-range shot by Marcus Johansson in the first period to send the puck onto the post. In the second, he made a quick pad save to stop a point shot that was deflected. On a 5-on-3 after the Capitals pulled Grubauer with four minutes left in the third period, he made a great pad save against Johansson.

"It's a belief in myself,"���������Montoya said. "The coaches believe in me. It's huge. I want to contribute when I can. I'm putting the work in, and it's fun to be a part of this group right now."

Forward Chris Brown made his season debut for the Capitals on their dads' trip, which continues Saturday against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

"We're going to Tampa and we're going to have to bring our 'A' game,"���������Trotz said. "We didn't do that tonight."

The Panthers start a four-game road trip Saturday afternoon against the Boston Bruins.

Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen played in his 600th NHL���������game.

Panthers defenseman Steven Kampfer sustained a lower-body injury in the first period and did not return.

The start of the game was delayed about 20 minutes because the required paramedics had to assist a nearby accident. The players briefly returned to the locker room while the teams waited for the emergency medical personnel to arrive at BB&T Center.

The Panthers then got things going almost immediately after the game started.

"It was a great start for us,"���������Gallant said. "[Jagr] getting that big goal to tie Marcel Dionne's record, it's awesome. It was a good start for us, and I���������thought we played a good, solid game."

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