Jagr returns to spoil Bruins' banner-raising party
BOSTON—Bobby Orr and Mark Recchi were back in their Bruins sweaters to help raise the Stanley Cup banner to the rafters at the new Boston Garden.
The old-timer celebrating after the game, however, was Jaromir Jagr.
The 39-year-old former Pittsburgh star returned after three years in Russia and scored his 1,600th NHL point to help the Philadelphia Flyers beat Boston 2-1 on Thursday night and spoil the Bruins' Stanley Cup celebration.
"We played the Stanley Cup champions. It's not easy," said Jagr, one of eight new players for Philadelphia, including three rookies. "They're probably the best team in the NHL and we've got totally a new team. A lot of young guys. A lot of rookies. You've got to give us time."
Jagr assisted on Claude Giroux's goal with 50 seconds left in the first, and Jakub Voracek scored 47 seconds later -- with 2.4 seconds left in the period -- to give the Flyers the lead.
Ilya Bryzgalov made 22 saves in his first game for the Flyers as they held on for a victory over the team that swept them out of the Eastern Conference semifinals last spring.
The Bruins went on to win their first Stanley Cup in 39 years, and they invited Orr and a handful of his teammates from the 1972 team back to help raise the franchise's sixth championship banner to the TD Garden rafters.
"We knew coming into tonight that we were going to get emotional. I actually kind of thought it was more emotional than I would have thought," Bruins forward Tyler Seguin said. "It's just about finding that switch to get into game mode and turn the page. But I think we started off well and it didn't end with a win but it's nice to get tonight out of the way."
The playoff loss to the Bruins sent the Flyers on an offseason overhaul in which they traded former captain Mike Richards and leading goal-scorer Jeff Carter on the same day in separate deals, in part to create salary cap room to sign Bryzgalov to a nine-year, $51 million deal. They also added Jagr, the NHL's leading scorer among active players and ninth overall.
Jagr assisted on the game-tying goal when he led Giroux across the blue line, and he found a space in the middle of four Bruins defenders before beating Thomas.
"Gi made a great play," Jagr said. "I told him not even Mario Lemieux can make those plays."
The sold-out crowd stood throughout the pregame ceremony, and it wasn't long before Brad Marchand, a surprising star in Boston's Cup run, scored a power-play goal on a pass from Seguin to give Boston a 1-0 lead. It was the first goal in the NHL this season; Marchand also scored the last goal in the NHL last season, an empty-netter against Vancouver in Game 7 of the finals.
But the Flyers answered with two in the final minute of the first. With just 2.4 seconds remaining in the period, Voracek gave Philadelphia a 2-1 lead with a shot through Thomas' legs.
"It was a big night for Boston, but we came here with a business," Bryzgalov said. "We did not came here to celebrate with them."
Flyers coach Peter Laviolette agreed.
"It's tough to come in when there's that much energy in the building for the opposition," he said. "I thought our guys battled through that."
Notes: The Flyers have won their season opener in three consecutive seasons, all on the road. Philadelphia is 21-16-7 in season openers and 19-14-7 in road openers. ... Voracek's goal ended a 16-game goal drought. ... Sean Couturier and Matt Read made their NHL debuts for Philadelphia, and Zac Rinaldo played in his first NHL regular-season game. ... The Bruins are 35-36-16 in season openers. They are 1-7-1 in their last nine. ... F Benoit Pouliot was a healthy scratch for Boston.