"Unbelievable," Prucha said as a big smile filled his face.
Jagr had a goal and three assists to hit the 100-point Saturday
night and carried New York to a 5-2 victory over the Toronto Maple
Leafs. The Rangers have won two straight after a season-worst,
six-game losing streak and have a two-point lead over Philadelphia
in the Atlantic Division with 15 games remaining.
New York hasn't reached the postseason since 1997. Upset that
many people picked the Rangers to finish last, Jagr has taken it
upon himself to prove the naysayers wrong.
"I am not trying to look for any records," said Jagr, who has
an NHL-best 46 goals along with 54 assists. "I wanted to help this
team make the playoffs.
"That was just my goal, nothing else."
Showing the form that won him five NHL scoring titles in
Pittsburgh, Jagr toyed with the Maple Leafs. Henrik Lundqvist did
the rest by making 33 saves for the 27th win of his rookie season.
He outdueled Mikael Tellqvist, his backup on the gold-medal winning
Swedish Olympic team.
Lundqvist lost his shutout bid with 8:04 left when Jason Allison
cashed in on Toronto's fifth power play of the third period.
Allison scored again with 1:41 remaining.
It didn't matter, because this night belonged to Jagr.
"He was certainly on a mission," coach Tom Renney said. "He
wanted this one badly, obviously, and he did the things that a
leader has to do."
He gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead with his goal -- a blistering shot
from the right circle that flew over Tellqvist's shoulder and found
a tiny corner of the net during a first-period power play when Jagr
was not facing that direction.
"That's the trick," said Jagr, who continues to claim he isn't
a goal scorer.
"That's what he is telling me, too, in practice that he doesn't
know where the puck is going," Lundqvist said. "He doesn't have
to look when he shoots. He knows where the net is."
Jagr then earned the primary assist on all three New York goals
in the second when it turned into a rout.
He slid a pass from the right circle into the slot to Petr
Sykora, who scored his 18th goal just 1:19 into the frame and less
than a minute after Bryan McCabe's 4-minute, high-sticking penalty.
Jagr then fired two shots from the middle of the Toronto zone
that were turned aside, but the second came to Michael Nylander,
who scored his 18th at 10:36.
That gave Jagr the lead back in the NHL scoring race as he moved
one point ahead of San Jose's Joe Thornton. He widened the gap with
No. 100 with 2:15 left in the second. He took a pass from Sandis
Ozolinsh at the right post, pushed the puck across the crease to
Prucha, who made it 4-0 with his 27th goal.
"He has a great pass, great vision, great shot, great
everything," Prucha said.
By then fans were on their feet cheering, and chanting "M-V-P!
M-V-P!" Jagr has only won that award once.
But in one night, he made several dents in the Rangers' record
book. He passed Hall of Famer Rod Gilbert, whose No. 7 hangs over
the Madison Square Garden ice, for points in a season by a right
winger; tied Vic Hadfield's mark of 23 power-play goals; and became
the sixth Blueshirt to reach 100 points in a season -- the first
since Mark Messier and Brian Leetch did it in 1991-92.
"It's the best we've seen here, maybe ever," Messier said.
"He's dominating the game. He's been consistent, he's led the
team, he's done everything you could ask for from a star player."
Jagr reached the milestone for the fifth time but the first in
four seasons. It was his third four-point game of the season and
the 42nd of his career.
"I haven't looked at the stats the last four years because I
wasn't up there," Jagr said. "That's why I didn't look at it."
Jagr even played defense. When Lundqvist faced pressure in the
second period, Jagr stood in a passing lane in front of the net and
cleared the puck out of danger.
The rest of the time he was moving all over the ice, tapping his
stick everywhere he went to call for the puck. Once they found him,
Jagr made the Leafs pay.
Toronto defenseman Aki Berg tried to stay with him when the game
was still scoreless. He forced Jagr to give the puck up, but
Nylander got it back to him for the snap shot that beat a helpless
Tellqvist, who made his third straight start in place of injured
regular Ed Belfour (back).
"I thought we were the better team," captain Mats Sundin said
of the Leafs, who sit five points out of a playoff spot. "We wound
up again on the wrong side of the score sheet. It's frustrating."
Sykora scored his second of the game into an empty net.
Gilbert had 97 points during the 1971-72 and 74-75 seasons.
... Toronto RW Jeff O'Neill returned after a three-game benching. C
Matt Stajan sat out for the first time this season. ... Nylander,
Prucha and Ozolinsh each had two assists. ... New York had four
goals on 14 shots through two periods.