BOSTON — Jaromir Jagr’s first goal in a Boston uniform was not one he will brag about at the end of his Hall of Fame career.
It was all the Bruins needed to win in his debut, though.
Jagr deflected the puck into the net off his skate for the game’s only goal, and Tuukka Rask stopped 40 shots for his third shutout of the season as Boston beat the New Jersey Devils 1-0 on Thursday night.
“They always say you’ve got to drive to the net. Now I know why,” said the 41-year-old forward, who has 680 goals in his 19-year career and 15 this season for the Dallas Stars and Bruins combined. “If I’d known when I was 20, I’d have 100 more goals now.”
Acquired from Dallas this week shortly before the trade deadline, Jagr joined the Bruins for the pregame skate Thursday morning and quickly endeared himself to the Boston fans. Brad Marchand’s centering pass went off Jagr’s left skate and past Martin Brodeur to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead with 80 seconds gone in the second period.
Fans, some wearing mullet wigs, gave Jagr a standing ovation when he took the ice for his first shift in the first period and chanted his name after the goal. Jagr skipped the military salute he traditionally uses to celebrate a goal, saying he would save it for the playoffs.
“Or if I score a good goal,” he said. “Not with my leg.”
Rask earned his 14th career shutout with some help from the crossbar and the post that foiled Dainius Zubrus and David Clarkson, respectively.
Brodeur made 25 saves for the defending Eastern Conference champions, who fell into ninth place and out of playoff position when the New York Islanders gained a point by losing an overtime game to the Washington Capitals.
“I’d be lying if I said we don’t know where we are in the playoffs. But we’re not thinking about it (every) game,” Devils defenseman Andy Greene said.
The Bruins kept pace with Montreal, which beat Winnipeg 4-1 to maintain a one-point lead in the Northeast Division.
Jagr played on a line with Marchand and Tyler Seguin. In addition to his somewhat inadvertent goal, he whiffed on a backhand with an open shot at the net midway through the second period and had another open net in the third, when his sweeping shot was blocked by a sprawling defenseman.
“He did a good job for a guy that just arrived yesterday,” Boston Coach Claude Julien said.
“His goal was something we like to see. It’s called ‘net drive.’ It’s a good example for the rest of the younger guys in that room to see from a guy of that age.”