NEW YORK (AP) -- Jaromir Jagr had no choice but to be honest. He
could already see the screaming headlines if he accepted a
record-setting goal he knew wasn't his.
"Cheater," Jagr portrayed the headlines.
For a few minutes it appeared that Jagr broke Adam Graves' team
record for goals in a season, but in reality he never touched the
puck. The goal was changed and given to Martin Straka, who ended up
with two Thursday night in the New York Rangers' 3-1 victory over
the New York Islanders.
Chants of "M-V-P" rained down throughout Madison Square Garden
when it was announced that Jagr had his 53rd goal. Rangers coach
Tom Renney even called Jagr back to the bench before the next
faceoff as fans saluted him again.
But when the buzzer sounded to end the second period moments
later, Jagr skated over to the referee.
"I said I didn't touch it and it wasn't my goal," Jagr said.
"Can you imagine if they would give it to me and after the game
you guys would ask me the stupid questions over and over and over
Before the start of the third period, an announcement was made
that the goal was Straka's and drew groans and a few boos. Straka's
pass into the slot struck the skate of Islanders forward Wyatt
Smith -- not Jagr -- and deflected in behind goalie Rick DiPietro.
"I tried to pass to him, and then they boo me when I score a
goal," Straka said. "I told him, 'Keep the goal. I don't want to
hear the booing."
The Rangers started slowly and fell behind in the first period.
When Miroslav Satan scored off a bad turnover by Rangers defenseman
Tom Poti, Renney called timeout. He gestured with his hands and
shook his head, clearly disappointed that his team came out flat
with so much on the line.
They recovered in the second.
Jarkko Immonen scored his first NHL goal in the opening minute
and Straka snapped the tie in the closing seconds of the frame with
his first of the night.
He gave the Rangers a 3-1 lead 8:55 into the third with his 21st
of the season and seventh in five games. New York, 5-1-1 this
season against the Islanders, leads Philadelphia by five points in
the division with six games left. The Flyers have seven to play.
The 23-year-old Immonen was recalled to make his NHL debut
earlier Thursday, replacing injured center Steve Rucchin (foot),
and got the Rangers even 21 seconds into the period. Straka made it
2-1 with 47.6 seconds left.
Jagr is concerned with winning and not records. What he doesn't
want is for his teammates to pass up scoring chances because they
are trying to get him the puck.
"If I don't do it, I'm tied with Gravesy," Jagr said. "We can
celebrate together and you will have two happy guys."
For the first time since 1997, the Rangers took the ice as a
team heading to the playoffs. After locking up a spot Tuesday with
a shootout victory over Philadelphia, the Rangers looked a bit
uninspired even against their biggest rival.
But the challenge wasn't quite the same as the Islanders played
their first meaningless game of the season. They were eliminated
from postseason consideration -- after three straight appearances --
when they lost in Toronto on Wednesday.
Rangers fans reminded them off their plight by chanting
"Season's Over!" as the final minutes ticked down.
Islanders coach Brad Shaw, who took his team to the Empire State
Building on Thursday morning, was glad Jagr was kept off the
"You wouldn't like to be the team he scores it against just
because of the unique rivalry that exists," he said. "Everybody
Despite having three power-play chances in the first period, two
on penalties to DiPietro, the Rangers managed just five shots and
handed the Islanders their only goal.
Poti, whose end-to-end rush and cross-ice pass set up Straka's
second goal, had his clearing attempt picked off by Satan in the
neutral zone. The Islanders' leading scorer beat Kevin Weekes with
a long shot at 10:39 for his 31st goal.
Weekes looked sharp in turning aside a few good scoring chances
early -- including Shawn Bates' breakaway -- and finished with 21
saves. He earned his second straight home win, after not winning
there since November, in place of injured starter Henrik Lundqvist
Weekes has won consecutive games four times this season.
Twice he won three in a row. ... Straka has reached 20 goals five
times. ... DiPietro (23 saves) was called for four of the
Islanders' five penalties. ... Weekes also took a penalty and
earned his third career assist on Straka's second goal.