It seems that New Jersey Devils veterans Jaromir Jagr and Martin Brodeur still have some good hockey left in their 41-year-old bodies.
The future hall of famers stole the show at the Bell Centre on Tuesday night, with Jagr moving into seventh place in all-time goal scoring and Brodeur stopping 29 shots as the Devils downed the Montreal Canadiens 4-1.
“We talk to each other a lot about certain things,” Brodeur said. “I think we have a lot in common about what our careers brought us.
“It’s nice to relate to a guy. It’s been a while since I’ve been able to do that here in New Jersey because we had so many young guys. It’s been fun to watch him play. It’s pretty impressive what he’s accomplished.”
Jagr tied the game at 17:23 of the first period with his first goal in 11 games and his 14th of the season. But more importantly, it was the 695th of a career that began in 1990 with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
That moved him past Mark Messier into seventh place all-time in goals. It came days after he passed former Penguins teammate Mario Lemieux for seventh place in career points with 1,724.
Brodeur, making his first start in four games, extended his NHL record for wins to 682, although a Max Pacioretty goal at the 7:00 mark of the first period kept his shutout record at 124.
At the end, both were called onto the ice for an ovation from the 21,273 Bell Centre fans as Brodeur was named first star and Jagr got second star.
“I didn’t expect that in somebody else’s building, but there’s a little history here for me,” said Brodeur, a Montreal native whose father Denis was once the Canadiens team photographer. “It’s definitely nice of them to do that.”
Montreal had a 30-19 shot advantage, but the Devils (20-18-10) scored more than two goals for the first time in six outings and the second time in their last 11. Brodeur and some tenacious third-period checking did the rest as New Jersey stretched its points streak to five games.
Canadiens coach Michel Therrien felt his team played with energy, but just couldn’t score.
“We competed,” said Therrien. “We set the tempo, but the story of the game was Marty Brodeur.
“He was phenomenal. We were the attacking team. We outshot them, but it was one of those nights when you run into a hot goaltender.”
Despite their age, neither Brodeur nor Jagr has decided on retirement just yet.
The game was billed as possibly Brodeur’s last visit to the Bell Centre, but he’s not ready to concede that.
“It might be my last one but it might not either,” he said. “I just want to play well when I play.
“It doesn’t matter what situation I’m in. I’m there to win hockey games and that’s it. I’ll do that as long as they let me do it.”
Jagr, who was chosen to play for the Czech Republic at the Sochi Olympics next months, was even more adamant about continuing his career.
“I’ve said many times, I’m not thinking about retiring yet,” he said. “I’m not counting my games yet, as long as I have fun.”
Goals early in the second frame from youngsters Eric Gelinas and Adam Henrique were the difference. Dainius Zubrus scored into an empty net, with an assist from Jagr, in the final minute.
Brodeur said Pacioretty’s goal on a long wrist shot that flew past his glove caused him to bear down and try to keep the Devils in the game.
“Our team, we’re kind of goal challenged, so it’s hard to give up the first goal,” he said. “I haven’t played in a while and I thought ‘this is not good.’ But I picked it up after that a little bit and we played a really solid hockey game.”
Montreal (26-16-5) was coming off one of its best games of the season in a 2-1 win over Chicago but could not duplicate that effort. The Canadiens went 0 for 3 with the man advantage, a fifth-straight game with no power-play goals.
Pacioretty struck first with his 20th of the season, but Jagr got it back when he got around Josh Gorges and used his long reach to put the puck past Carey Price and in off the far post.
Gelinas scored from the point on a power play 1:20 into the second period and Henrique got his sixth goal in the last 10 games from a scramble in the Montreal crease at 4:02.
The crowd booed as what appeared to be a Brendan Gallagher goal was disallowed later by video review for inadvertently kicking the puck in late in the second.
Notes: David Desharnais sat out with a flu and his spot on Montreal’s top line was taken by Lars Eller. Francis Bouillon moved in as a seventh defenceman. . . Ryan Clowe picked up two assists and has seven points in his last five games. . . It was the third and last meeting of the season between the teams. Montreal won the series 2-1-0.