CALGARY, Alberta — Jaromir Jagr has finally found the back of the net with his ninth NHL franchise.
The 45-year-old scored his first as a Flame and assisted on Mark Jankowski’s first of his career to lead Calgary to a 6-3 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday night.
Jagr’s rebound bounced in off Jankowski’s leg to open the scoring 9:15 into the first period. In the second with Calgary ahead 4-2, the future hall-of-famer showed the type of finish that has got him 766 career goals, third on the league’s all-time goals list behind Gordie Howe and Wayne Gretzky.
Breaking up ice on a 2-on-1 with Johnny Gaudreau, Jagr got himself open, took a cross-ice feed and after patiently waiting for Petr Mrazek to go down, snapped a shot past the Red Wings goaltender.
“Of course any first goal for any team is special, especially in Canada,” said Jagr. “I can see how much the fans appreciate it, how much they love hockey. Since the first day I’ve signed here they have been so good to me.”
Jagr’s first two-point game since signing as a free agent on Oct. 4 gives him four points in seven games. He was playing his second game after missing six with a groin injury.
“Scoring your first NHL goal is something you’ve dreamed about your whole life ever since you were a little kid and wanted to play in the NHL, and just to have (Jagr) get the assist on it, it just makes it that much more (special),” said Jankowski, Calgary’s first round pick in 2012.
Also assisting on Jankowski’s goal was Sam Bennett, ending his 15-game pointless skid to open the season.
With his team desperate for secondary scoring, Flames coach Glen Gulutzan hopes Jagr, playing alongside Jankowski and Bennett, can start contributing offensively.
“Jags gives us some energy and he puts it in the building too,” said Gulutzan. “Guys were liking Jags’ big time shifts. There’s some energy there. We need that moving forward. This league gets hard, it’s close every night and you need your guys to feel confident and have a little fun and we’re better when we’re like that. So the points, I think, really help.”
Gaudreau scored a pair, including an empty-netter, Micheal Ferland and Matthew Tkachuk also scored for Calgary (9-7-0), which has won four of its last five. Gaudreau’s three-point night extends his point-streak to six games (four goals, six assists).
Anthony Mantha led the offence for Detroit (8-8-1) with a goal and two assists. Martin Frk and Frans Nielsen also scored.
Up 2-0 after the first period, the Flames extended their lead to three goals at 6:02 of the second on a nice play by Ferland, who split the Detroit defense then scored on pretty deke to his forehand.
Ferland has goals in three straight games and in four of his last five as he continues to impress on the right side of the Flames’ top line with Gaudreau and Sean Monahan.
“It’s a hard league to dig yourself a hole in,” said Detroit coach Jeff Blashill. “You want to play from ahead as much as you can and when you don’t, you can’t give up easy goals and expect to come back.”
The best of Mike Smith’s 39 stops came early in the second. After Gaudreau had the puck stolen by Dylan Larkin in his own end, Smith bailed him out by robbing Larkin with a spectacular glove save.
Mrazek, who recorded a 36-save shutout over Edmonton in his last start, turned aside 28-of-33 shots.
Notes: Rookie D Rasmus Andersson, 21, made his season debut for the Flames with veteran Matt Bartkowski a healthy scratch. Andersson finished a plus-two in his second career game. … The two teams will meet again in Detroit on Wednesday… The Red Wings play 13 of their next 15 games at the new Little Caesars Arena.
Red Wings: host Columbus on Saturday.
Flames: host St. Louis on Monday.