NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — A month shy of 43, Jaromir Jagr is still setting scoring records.
Jagr scored three times to pass Gordie Howe and become the oldest NHL player to record a hat trick, leading New Jersey to a 5-2 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday night. All five Devils’ goals came from players 35 or older.
“It’s not easy to score in this league anymore,” Jagr said. “With the videos, the preparation, the systems they play, plus the goaltenders are so good. I am happy for every opportunity to score goals.”
The line of Jagr, Adam Henrique and Scott Gomez combined for four goals and eight points, helping the Devils end a two-game skid with their third victory in 13 games (3-7-3).
The Devils had not scored more than three in a game since a 5-3 victory over the Maple Leafs on Dec. 4, a span of 14 games.
“We’ve had our chances,” Gomez said. “Tonight they went in.”
Patrik Elias (age 38) and Gomez (35) also scored, while Cory Schneider made 18 saves.
It was Jagr’s night to shine, though. He notched his 15th career hat trick, first since March 26, 2006, against the Flyers while a member of the New York Rangers. Howe was 41 in 1969 when he had a three-goal game.
“I had luck on my side tonight,” Jagr said. “I wasn’t really looking for it.”
Jagr has 714 goals and is only three behind Phil Esposito in fifth place all-time.
“We’re not all going to be Jaromir Jagr,” Gomez said. “You can pick up things, like his work habits. We can all bring something to the team but we all wish we could put up numbers like that. It’s not going to happen. If everyone knows their role and knows what to do, we’re going to be tough.”
Andrew MacDonald and Vincent Lecavalier scored for Flyers, who dropped their fifth straight.
It was the third meeting between the Metropolitan division rivals. They split the first two games in Philadelphia.
The Flyers scratched captain Claude Giroux, who was cut by a skate in Friday night’s loss in Carolina. That ended his streak of consecutive games played at 168.
Jagr scored twice in the first period as the Devils jumped out to a 3-0 lead.
On Jagr’s first tally, Flyers goalie Ray Emery misplayed the puck behind his net. Adam Henrique grabbed it for the feed to Jagr who flipped in a backhander at 13:20.
Elias added a power-play score at 15:42 on a drive from the lower right circle.
Jagr struck again, with 3.8 seconds remaining as he converted a turnover by Flyers defenseman Mark Streit.
Steve Mason replaced Emery to start the second. The move didn’t help the Flyers as the Devils got two more goals and led 5-1 at the end of the period.
Gomez put the Devils up 4-0 with a slapper from the left circle at 9:35. Jagr then completed the hat trick, poking in the puck from the slot at 12:32.
MacDonald finally broke through for the Flyers at 16:38, beating Schneider from the left circle to cut the Devils lead to 5-1.
Lecavalier got a power-play goal at 5:59 of the third.
The Flyers were disgusted by their effort.
“The way we played tonight, if we had Gretzky we wouldn’t have won,” Wayne Simmonds said.
The one compensation was a seat as Jagr turned back the clock.
“He’s one of the top five players to ever play the game,” Simmonds said. “It stinks that it happened against us, but as a hockey fan, it’s great to watch.”
NOTES: The Devils recalled Mark Fraser from Albany (AHL). He last appeared in an NHL game on April 12, 2014, with the Edmonton Oilers. … The game concluded a season-long eight game road trip for the Flyers. … The teams wasted little time dropping the gloves in the first period. The Flyers’ Zac Rinaldo and Jordin Tootoo squared off at 2:36. Philadelphia’s Michael Raffi and Tim Sistito battled 22 seconds later. The third bout came late in the second period as New Jersey’s Mark Fraser and Wayne Simmonds duked it out. Round four came in the third as Sistito fought Brayden Schenn. Everyone involved received a five-minute fighting major. … Jagr got the hat trick in a brand new pair of skates that he laced up for the first time for the pregame warmup.
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