By PAUL GEREFFI
SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — Jaromir Jagr is having fun in Florida and wants to stay with the Panthers.
Jagr had a goal and an assist, and Florida beat the New Jersey Devils 3-2 on Saturday night in the season finale for each team.
Jagr’s 17th goal of the season matched Wayne Gretzky for 14th on the NHL list with 204 career power-play goals. He also grabbed sole possession of sixth on the league’s list for assists with 1,080.
The 43-year-old Jagr gave the Panthers a 3-2 lead with his power-play goal at 12:23 of the third. His initial shot was blocked, but he swept in the rebound.
It was Jagr’s first game against the Devils since they traded him to Florida on Feb. 26. Jagr has six goals and 12 assists in 20 games with Florida.
Jagr shook his head no when asked if the big goal against the Devils was anything special.
“I was just having fun,” Jagr said. “I don’t press anything.”
Jonathan Huberdeau and Dave Bolland also scored for the Panthers. Al Montoya made 31 saves in his first appearance since injuring his groin against Toronto on March 3, a span of 17 games.
Damon Severson and Jordin Tootoo scored for the Devils, and Cory Schneider stopped 24 shots.
Florida (38-29-15) closed the season with two straight wins after dropping three of four. It also beat New Jersey for the first time in three games this season.
“Some big guys scored some big goals for us. It was a great way to finish the season,” coach Gerard Gallant said.
The Devils (32-36-14) dropped 10 of their last 11 games. Schneider lost his last eight starts of the season.
“We were just close and couldn’t get it done in certain games. I don’t feel good about it,” Devils President and GM Lou Lamoriello said. “We’ll just have to make some decisions going forward.”
Jagr also got an assist on Huberdeau’s career-high 15th goal at 7:59 of the third. Jagr shot from the right circle and Schneider blocked the shot. Huberdeau grabbed the rebound and poked it in, lifting Florida to a 2-1 lead.
Jagr indicated he wants to return next season.
“It’s getting close. I want 10 million, they give me one million,” he said, joking.
Then he added: “The team wants me here, I want to be here. I love this team. I think it’s going to happen pretty soon.”
Severson tied it at 2 when he took a backhanded pass in the right circle and put it high into the net at 11:01.
Tootoo put the Panther in front 1:50 into the second. He passed from the right circle to Travis Zajac in the slot. Zajac passed it back to Tootoo low in the circle and he one-timed it past Montoya.
Bolland’s goal tied it at 1. Brad Boyes passed from the right circle to Bolland in front of the crease. Bolland redirected the puck past Schneider on the stick side at 11:08 of the second.
“I think it’s too early to sum up what’s going to happen next year,” Devils forward Patrik Elias said. “I think there will be some changes and that will affect the team and the way we will play. We worked hard, but obviously we’ve got to improve going ahead.”
The Panthers had a goal waved off with 3:01 left in the second when it was ruled that Jimmy Hayes made incidental contact with Schneider before the shot by Aaron Ekblad went into the net.
NOTES: Jagr played in his 1,550th NHL game, passing F Alex Delvecchio for sole possession of 11th place. … Panthers D Erik Gudbranson was scratched with an upper-body injury. … Devils Ds Raman Hrabarenka and Seth Helgeson were assigned to Albany of the AHL.
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