Jagr Passes Kurri With His 602nd Goal

The Associated Press
Wednesday, November 22, 2006; 5:45 PM

NEW YORK -- Jaromir Jagr's smile is back and his corny jokes are drawing laughs again in a happier New York Rangers dressing room.

And why not? Jagr's shoulder his stronger, his scoring touch is returning to the precision level of last season, and the Broadway Blueshirts are starting to win on a more consistent basis.

One other thing, Jagr is suddenly on a milestone-a-night pace at Madison Square Garden.

The Czech star scored twice during another special night and Henrik Lundqvist made 34 saves in his third career shutout to give the Rangers a solid 4-0 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday.

Just two nights after Jagr became the 16th NHL player to score 600 goals, he passed Jari Kurri and set the record for goals by a European-born player.

"Now I'm looking for the 700th," he said with a chuckle. "Jari Kurri was a guy everybody looked up to from Europe. He was our idol. To score more goals than him ... It's huge."

In the only other NHL games Tuesday, it was Edmonton 2, Calgary 1, and Anaheim 5, San Jose 0.

The jovial moods disappeared from Jagr _ the new Rangers captain _ last spring, shortly after he broke team records for goals (54) and points (123) and carried New York into the playoffs for the first time since 1997.

The postseason stay was short and Jagr's contribution was limited. He hurt his shoulder in the series opener against New Jersey, then the injury knocked him out for good in the final game of the Devils' first-round sweep. Surgery followed, and Jagr didn't get back to playing until just before this season.

He still hasn't regained total strength in the shoulder he dislocated, but the results are starting to say otherwise. Jagr has three goals and two assists the past two games and leads the NHL with 34 points and 23 helpers.

"It is not 100 percent," he said. "Not yet. But it's better."

And so are the Rangers. New York followed up a dismal performance last Saturday in Pittsburgh with a pair of home victories against Tampa Bay and Carolina. The previous two Stanley Cup champions were outscored 8-1.

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