BOSTON — The Boston Bruins won a wide-open and entertaining hockey game Tuesday night, but much of the post-game talk was about a guy who wasn’t even in the building.
Earlier Tuesday, the Bruins acquired future Hall of Famer Jaromir Jagr from Dallas in exchange for two bodies and a draft pick. He is scheduled to debut for the Bruins Thursday night against New Jersey.
“The experience that he has and what he’s been through on different levels as far as world championships, Olympics, World Cups, and so on, it’s very valuable to have a player and person like that,” Bruins captain Zdeno Chara said after the 3-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators.
“A long time ago, back when I was 10 years old, my uncle, Dan Kesa, played on the Pittsburgh Penguins and when they played the Canucks and I had a chance to go down to the dressing room and meet him,” said Milan Lucic. “That was obviously when he was in his absolute prime and for me and my brothers as kids it was pretty awesome to meet a guy like him.
“The same feeling today, when you hear the news, you get to play with a legend like himself it’s definitely … it’s going to be a great addition to our team; and I think Claude (coach Julien) said it best when he said we’re not looking for him to be the savior, we’re looking for him to add on to this team and hopefully make us better.”
Jagr, who comes to Boston with as many goals, 14, as any Bruin, will provide help for a struggling power play. His strength is along “the wall,” something the club hasn’t had since losing Marc Savard to head injuries, has to help.
“There’s no doubt he’s going to help us and I think that’s the key word,” said Julien. “He’s coming to help us; he’s not coming to save us.”
The news wasn’t all good for Boston. The Bruins lost leading scorer and the NHL’s No. 1 faceoff man Patrice Bergeron to what appeared to be an injury to his head or shoulder; after he came together with Ottawa’s Colin Greening as the Senator was trying to shoot in the second period. He made contact with Greening’s forearm or elbow.
Bergeron has had two serious concussions but has been concussion free for almost two years. There was no word on his condition after the game.
As far as the game itself, the Bruins fired a season-high 50 shots at Robin Lehner, but also allowed 47 shots on their own goalie, Anton Khudobin, playing his second straight game and coming off a 2-0 shutout of Buffalo Sunday night. Boston pulled it out to move back to within a point of the idle Canadiens in the Northeast Division.
It was the ultimate good news/bad news for Julien as a coach; he was thrilled at his team’s offense and but anything BUT when talking about defense.
Asked about not seeing 97 shots in a modern NHL game, Julien said, “You do in scrimmages,” and added, “somehow we have to combine both together and I thought we were very soft defensively.”
Nathan Horton (12th goal) converted a Lucic (two assists) rebound with 9:39 left and Khudobin stopped 45 shots as the Bruins made it 4-0 (all close games) over the Senators this season; 13 wins in the last 14 games against Ottawa.
The one Ottawa win in those 14 games was a 1-0 Lehner shutout last season. He faced 46 shots in a 2-1 overtime loss first time in town this season and was outstanding Tuesday.
“It was a fun game to play and it was frustrating when you come up just short,” Lehner said.
Horton scored for the fourth game in a row.
David Krejci (No. 9, plus an assist) and Tyler Seguin, 12 shots on goal, 12th goal of the year) also scored for the Bruins while Greening (No. 7) and Andre Benoit (No. 3) scored for the Senators, who continue to battle despite a slew of injuries.
The Benoit goal tied the game 1:55 into the third period; but no one knew it. When play stopped with 17:14 left, Toronto called, the play was reviewed, the goal counted and the clock was set back to 18:05.
The Bruins killed the final 32.3 seconds of the game a man down, with Johnny Boychuk in the penalty box. But a crunching check by Chara all but ended the game.
“I thought we should have played it on the Rideau Canal, a little bit of a river hockey game, which is not something you expect against the Boston Bruins,” said Ottawa coach Paul MacLean. “But it ends up a one-goal game against. And again they win.”
Islanders 5, Jets 2: Frans Nielsen scored a power-play goal in the final half-minute of the third period Tuesday night to give the streaking New York Islanders the lead for good in a 5-2 win over the reeling Winnipeg Jets at Nassau Coliseum.
With the win — their fifth in the past six games — the Islanders (18-16-3) broke a tie with the idle New York Rangers for eighth place in the Eastern Conference, moving into a tie with the idle New Jersey Devils for seventh. The Islanders have not made the playoffs since the 2006-07 season.
Anders Lee, who was making his NHL debut; Colin McDonald, Matt Moulson and John Tavares also scored for the Islanders, who improved to 7-11-2 at home. Kevin Poulin made 23 saves, and he became the first Islanders goaltender other than starter Evgeni Nabokov to win a game this year.
Paul Postma scored both goals for the Jets, who suffered their fourth straight loss. took another hit with a fourth straight loss. Winnipeg (18-18-2) saw its Southeast Division lead trimmed to two points.
The Jets/Atlanta Thrashers made the only postseason appearance in the team’s 13-season history after winning the Southeast Division in 2006-07.
The Jets are also trying to become the first Winnipeg-based NHL team to win a division title. The Jets, who joined the NHL during the WHA/NHL merger in 1979, never won a division title in 17 seasons before moving to Phoenix and becoming the Coyotes in 1996.
Goalie Ondrej Pavelec had 34 saves for the Jets.
Lee put the Islanders on the board and elicited a roar from the crowd of 11,819 with a spectacular goal on his first NHL shot. Lee was double-teamed along the boards on the left side of the ice and briefly lost his balance. However, he retained it and fired a slap shot from just beyond the left faceoff circle past Pavelec.
Even Lee — whom the Islanders drafted out of Notre Dame in 2009 but didn’t sign until Monday — seemed surprised by the swiftness of his score. He hesitated for a moment before celebrating, after which he slapped hands with everyone on the Islanders bench and hugged Poulin.
It didn’t take long for Lee to experience the other side of life in the NHL, though. Less than two minutes later, Postma beat Lee to a loose puck in front of the Islanders’ net and shot it past Poulin.
Postma extended the Jets’ lead to 2-1 a little more than six minutes into the second when he took a crossing pass from Chris Thorburn — who was trailing Lee and Eric Tangradi as they tangled for the puck — and beat Poulin from the right side of the goalmouth.
The Islanders tied and took the lead on rebound goals later in the second. McDonald’s wrister pulled the Islanders even at 9:56 before Nielsen’s power play goal with 28 seconds left put New York ahead.
Moulson provided insurance with exactly two minutes left in the third when he took a crossing pass from Tavares and beat Pavelec to complete a 2-on-1. Tavares’ empty-netter with 36 seconds left capped the scoring.
NOTES: The Islanders scratched winger Eric Boulton, defenseman Radek Martinek and center Marty Reasoner while the Jets scratched defensemen Grant Clitsome, Derek Meech and Arturs Kulda. … During their first incarnation in Winnipeg, the Jets finished as high as second in a division just twice — in 1981-82 (Norris Division) and 1984-85 (Smythe Division). … Current Jets backup goalie Al Montoya was the last goalie other than Nabokov to win a game for the Islanders when he beat, coincidentally, the Jets on April 5, 2012. … The Jets, who entered Tuesday as the only team in playoff position with a losing record at home (8-9-0), complete a three-game road trip at Montreal on Thursday before embarking upon a season-high six-game homestand from Apr. 6-20. … The only teams in the NHL with longer playoff droughts than the Jets and Islanders are Toronto (last made playoffs in 2003-04) and Edmonton (last made playoffs in 2005-06).