By PAUL GEREFFI
SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — Surrounded by young talent on the Florida Panthers, aging veteran Jaromir Jagr is proving he can still contribute.
Jagr scored his 718th NHL goal, moving into fifth place on the career list, and added an assist in the Panthers’ 3-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday night.
The 43-year-old Jagr, who gave the Panthers a 1-0 lead, passed Hall of Famer Phil Esposito with his first goal since March 1. Jagr has scored two with Florida since being acquired from New Jersey on Feb. 28.
Jonathan Huberdeau dropped the puck to Jagr in the left circle, and he fired a shot past Petr Mrazek on the glove side at 10:55 of the second.
Jagr’s line with Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov has been especially effective for the Panthers.
“They’re still young. Me too,” Jagr said. “I’ve got a lot of games left.”
Scottie Upshall and Brandon Pirri also scored, and Roberto Luongo made 25 saves in his return after missing six games due to an upper-body injury. It was Florida’s first win in three games.
The Panthers are three points behind the Ottawa Senators and five points behind the Boston Bruins for the eighth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Ottawa beat Boston 6-4 on Thursday. The Panthers will host the Bruins on Saturday.
Luongo, who will turn 36 on April 4, held the Red Wings scoreless until midway through the third period.
“I wasn’t sure what to expect,” Luongo said. “I was really happy with the way I felt.”
The decision to play Luongo wasn’t made until after practice on Wednesday.
“Nice to see Louie come back in the net, and he played a great game,” Panthers coach Gerard Gallant said.
Erik Cole had the lone goal for Detroit, and Mrazek stopped 29 shots, but the Red Wings lost for the fifth time in seven games.
“Luongo was good,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “We lost depth three times and ended up with goals in our net. You’ve got to find ways to win games.”
Pirri made it 2-0 at 14:42. Aaron Ekblad’s shot was blocked, but Jagr found the loose puck in the crease and pushed it toward the goal line. Pirri came in and got his blade on it just before the puck crossed the line.
The goal, originally credited to Jagr, was Pirri’s 14th in 19 games, including one in each of the past four.
Upshall gave Florida a 3-0 edge when his shot from the left circle went over Mrazek’s shoulder and into the net at 6:50 of the third.
The Red Wings got within two goals when Cole scored at 10:07. Tomas Tatar passed the puck from behind the net out to Cole in front for a shot past Luongo.
“Honestly, it’s nice to contribute, but when it’s in losses it isn’t that great. We need to win games,” Cole said.
The Panthers started fast, taking 14 shots in the first 12:01, but didn’t record their next one until 16:11 of the second — a span of 11:48.
NOTES: Red Wings C Pavel Datsyuk (lower body) didn’t make the trip to Florida. … Detroit C Darren Helm returned after missing seven games due to an oblique injury. … C Stephen Weiss, who played 10 seasons with the Panthers, was a healthy scratch. … Panthers forwards Shawn Thornton and Jimmy Hayes were healthy scratches.
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