Florida Panthers

With two goals against Ottawa Senators, Jaromir Jagr gives Florida Panthers something to smile about

Florida Panthers' Jaromir Jagr scores two more against Ottawa Senators

Jaromir Jagr speaks after scoring twice in the Florida Panthers 6-2 win against Ottawa in Sunrise on Thursday.
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Jaromir Jagr speaks after scoring twice in the Florida Panthers 6-2 win against Ottawa in Sunrise on Thursday.

Jaromir Jagr probably should warn his dentist when Ottawa comes to town.

Of course, knowing his reputation, Jagr would probably trade a few teeth for goals any day.

Thursday, Jagr took another Ottawa stick to his face, yet was able to smile about it afterward as he scored twice as Florida ended its three-game slide with a 6-2 win over the Senators at BB&T Center.

“This,” Jussi Jokinen said, “was a step in the right direction.”

Back in December, Jagr had his front bridge smashed when he caught the blade from Alex Chiasson’s stick right in the mouth.

Thursday, Erik Karlsson’s errant stick got Jagr again — this time taking a chunk out of a bottom front tooth.

As was the case in December, officials apparently didn’t see anything as no penalties were called either time.

“I need to check the schedule when we play against them,’’ Jagr said, adding he’s lost five teeth — four in the previous meeting — against the Senators this season. “I’m going to wear one of those full cages next time.”

Jagr started the scoring, giving the Panthers a 1-0 lead. Florida would take the lead twice with Ottawa matching each time shortly thereafter.

Yet in the second, Aaron Ekblad and Jonathan Huberdeau both scored within a span of 14 seconds and Ottawa didn’t answer anymore.

Florida went into the second break holding the 4-2 advantage then added third-period goals from Jagr and Vincent Trocheck.

“Every time we scored, they seemed to score,’’ coach Gerard Gallant said. “After the first period, we played a real solid game and those two goals were huge for us.’’

Before Ekblad scored to make it 3-2, Florida had taken the lead two previous times only to watch the Senators match not long after.

Up 1-0 after Jagr scored, Zack Smith countered with 22.6 seconds left in the opening period.

Florida made it 2-1 on Jokinen’s goal early in the second only to watch Karlsson’s long slap shot beat Roberto Luongo less than a minute later to knot it up again.

“We’re a young team that had lost three straight,” Trocheck said. “Sometimes you lose a little bit of confidence.”

After Ekblad one-timed a Vincent Trocheck delivery past former Florida netminder Craig Anderson, Huberdeau got an unassisted goal by picking off the puck in front of the net and beating Anderson.

Ekblad made it 3-2 at 9:32 of the second; Huberdeau gave Florida a two-goal lead at 9:46.

“People may not realize it, but this was a big game for us,’’ Jagr said. “They were four points out and it was big for us after losing three straight. All these teams are fighting for the playoffs. They aren’t easy games.’’

▪ Jagr has been one of the NHL’s top scoring players on home ice throughout the season as he came into the game tied for 12th with 32 points in games at BB&T Center, according to Stats Research.

Jagr has at least a point in 23 of the 33 home games he’s played in and 17 of his 23 goals this season have come in Sunrise.

“Sometimes the puck goes in, sometimes it doesn’t,” Jagr said. “And it’s easier at home in front of your fans. They push you a little going forward.’’

▪ Jokinen has scored in nine consecutive games and Thursday was just the second time he had multiple points during that span.

Jokinen, who has scored goals in each of his past two games, has two goals and nine assists in his past nine games.

▪ The Panthers welcomed back center Derek MacKenzie after he missed the past five games with what were believed to be concussion symptoms.

“It was something I was dealing with for a little while and for whatever reason it kind of caught up with me in Columbus a little bit,” MacKenzie said after Thursday’s morning skate. “The best thing to do was just take a little bit of time and kind of regroup.”

With MacKenzie back, Florida has two extra forwards. Kyle Rau and Quinton Howden were healthy scratches as was defenseman Steven Kampfer.

▪ With his third-period goal, Trocheck became the fourth Florida player with 20 goals this season. Last year, the Panthers had two: Nick Bjugstad and Brandon Pirri.

Trocheck got the team’s ‘Spacey In Space’ sweatshirt for the first time following Thursday’s game.

“I feel we have two first lines right now,” said Jokinen, who has 13 goals. “We’re going to need that going forward. I love playing with [Trocheck]; he’s taken some big steps this year. He’s getting better every day.”

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