Mario Lemieux’s comeback has been just as good as he expected--and even better for Jaromir Jagr.
Lemieux had a goal and three assists to become the 10th NHL player with 1,500 points and helped Jagr reach 1,000 points by setting up his two goals, leading the Pittsburgh Penguins past the Ottawa Senators, 5-3, Saturday night at Pittsburgh.
Lemieux has two goals and five assists in two games since ending his 3 1/2-year retirement. He scored an empty-net goal with 13 seconds left, spinning in a bad-angle backhander from the left circle even as center Alexei Yashin tried to swat away the shot.
“I said when I was coming back that I expected to play at a high level,” Lemieux said. “I was prepared to play like I can play. And I think I can play better than I’ve been playing.”
The rest of the NHL probably didn’t want to hear that.
As successful as Lemieux’s comeback has been, it has benefited Jagr even more by helping him out of a nearly season-long scoring slump.
Jagr, the three-time defending NHL scoring champion, also has seven points since Lemieux’s return, with all four of his goals set up by Lemieux.
“He’s been playing awesome,” said Jagr, who not long ago had a scoring drought of only one goal in 12 games. “He’s making a big difference. He’s making us play with a lot of confidence.”
St. Louis 2, Phoenix 1--Chris Pronger had two assists and Brent Johnson made 18 saves at St. Louis to lead the Blues past the Coyotes for their ninth win in 11 games.
Claude Lemieux scored for the Coyotes, whose had earned at least one point in the standings in eight consecutive games.
Johnson, who entered the game with the league’s best goals-against average (1.47), improved his record to 13-1-0. The only loss was a 4-3 decision against Vancouver on Nov. 21.
The Blues held Phoenix without a shot for the first 14:54 of the third period. The Coyotes also had a 12-minute stretch in the second period in which they were held without a shot on goal.
Vancouver 6, San Jose 3--Todd Bertuzzi recorded his first career hat trick as the Canucks beat the Pacific Division-leading Sharks at San Jose.
All three of Bertuzzi’s goals came on the power play. Donald Brashear, Mattias Ohlund and Peter Schaefer scored goals in a three-minute span in the second period for the Canucks.
Vancouver rebounded from a 5-0 loss in Calgary Friday night and ended a four-game road losing streak.
Washington 6, Philadelphia 3--Steve Konowalchuk scored on a rebound of his own shot to break a 3-3 tie and highlight a four-goal final period as the Capitals beat the Flyers at Washington.
Konowalchuk got the rebound after he missed on a breakaway, and flipped the puck behind Brian Boucher with 7:25 left.
Joe Sacco and Peter Bondra added empty-net goals for the Capitals.
Buffalo 2, New York Islanders 0--Martin Biron stopped 15 shots for his first shutout of the season, Denis Hamel had a short-handed goal, and Eric Rasmussen scored into an empty net as the Sabres won at Uniondale, N.Y.
The shutout was Biron’s sixth in 57 NHL games. The Sabres’ top goalie, Dominik Hasek, recorded his 49th career shutout Friday in a 2-0 victory over Ottawa.
The Islanders have been held scoreless a league-high seven times this season.
Edmonton 3, Montreal 2--Doug Weight beat Jose Theodore with a wrist shot 1:49 into overtime to give the Oilers a victory over the Canadiens at Edmonton.
Weight picked up the puck near the boards, deked defenseman Patrice Brisebois and fired a shot over Theodore’s shoulder.
Toronto 4, Florida 1--Sergei Berezin scored two goals as the Maple Leafs beat the Panthers at Sunrise, Fla., to end a two-game losing streak.
It was the first loss for new Panther Coach Duane Sutter, who won his debut Friday night against Boston.
Tampa Bay 1, Boston 1--Dan Cloutier made 33 saves in a rare start for the Lightning in a tie with the Bruins at Tampa, Fla.