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NOTEBOOK: Jagr ties Howe, Minnesota homecoming for former Gophers

by Jameson Olive / Florida Panthers
Look out Mr. Hockey, here comes Mr. Coffee!

On the same day the Wall Street Journal reported that Jaromir Jagr had given up guzzling an astounding 10 cups of coffee per day for Lent, the Florida Panthers legendary forward showed no signs of decaffeinated sluggishness while sipping on his latest career success during a 3-2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday.

With a secondary assist on Erik Gudbranson’s first-period goal, Jagr moved into a tie with Gordie Howe for third place on the NHL’s all-time scoring list with his 1,850th career point, needing 156 fewer games than Howe to reach that mark.

"It's still an amazing accomplishment,'' center Aleksander Barkov said of Jagr, via the Sun Sentinel. "So many points in his career and still a lot coming. He's a great player and it's an honor to play with him on the same team and on the same line.''

Jagr, 44, will own sole possession of third overall when he tallies his historic next point, possibly as early as Saturday when the Panthers conclude their five-road trip against the Coyotes in Arizona. He is still 37 points away from Mark Messier for second all-time and a staggering 1,007 behind Wayne Gretzky for the top spot.

"Seriously, every game they seem to announce another milestone for him,” center Vincent Trocheck told reporters after Jagr pulled within one point of Howe on Saturday.

"It's awesome”

With 18 games remaining in the regular season, Jagr looks poised to gain a significant amount of ground on Messier as the Kladno, Czech Republic native continues to heat up down the home stretch. Already leading the team in points (48) and holding a share of the team lead in goals (21), Jagr has also notched eight points (4-4—8) in his last seven games.

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

Barkov goes 0-100 Real Quick

Lost in the excitement of Jagr’s latest milestone was a somewhat lesser, but nevertheless important, accomplishment for Barkov, who recorded the 100th point of his young career with the primary assist on Gudbranson’s goal.

Barkov, 20, has undoubtedly been one of the greatest beneficiaries of Jagr’s arrival late last season, notching 55 points (26-29—55) in 68 games playing alongside the future Hall of Famer.
The No. 2 overall pick in the 2013 NHL Draft, Barkov has registered 43 goals and 57 assists in 173 career NHL games.

Minnesota Homecoming

The last time Panthers forwards Nick Bjugstad and Kyle Rau shared the ice at Xcel Energy Center, the talented scoring duo were leading the University of Minnesota to a 5-2 victory over North Dakota to advance to the 2012 Frozen Four in Tampa Bay.

“That’s a great memory,” Bjugstad recalled. “One of my better memories of the University of Minnesota. It’s always fun going back, seeing your family and friends, and playing in that arena. It’s definitely something special.”

In their first game back at the arena in which they shared so many fond memories, Bjugstad said he couldn’t help but reminisce while playing alongside his former collegiate teammate during a 3-1 loss to Minnesota on Sunday.

“I definitely get a little more nervous for that game,” said Bjugstad, a native of Blaine, Minn., who has notched a goal and an assist in six career games against the Wild. “Everyone is watching, your family and friends are there.

“You want to come out with a win because most of your buddies are Wild fans anyway, so you want to rub it into them a little bit. It was a tough loss this time around, but it was still an important time for Kyle and I to be playing together back in Minnesota.”

As for Rau, a native of Eden Prairie, Minn., the Panthers rookie carved out a substantial section of the arena to hold the large amount of family and friends that came to cheer him on in his return to the North Star State.

Bjugstad, however, doesn’t think Rau put too much emphasis on the moment.

“He doesn’t let it get to him,” Bjugstad said of Rau. “He probably just acted like he would if he was in any other arena in the NHL.”
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