LOS ANGELES (AP) - Jaromir Jagr was already in his eighth NHL season when Matthew Tkachuk was born in 1997, and the 45-year-old star felt all of those extra years when he began his 24th season in the league with the Calgary Flames.
His new teenage teammate played a major role in getting him a win.
The second-leading scorer in league history nearly scored on his opening shift of a solid debut with the Flames, his ninth NHL team.
“I didn’t feel very well, but I expected that,” Jagr said. “Hopefully next game, I’ll feel better. … After my legs come back, it’s going to be a little bit different.”
With a knowing grimace, Jagr said the game got “a little bit harder” as it went along: “I didn’t play for five, six months, and now I’m 45.”
Although he didn’t record a shot on goal during his 15 shifts, Jagr spent time on the power play and earned more ice time than coach Glen Gulutzan initially planned to give him.
Despite those weary legs, Jagr is already encouraged by his first experience with his dynamic new team, which has won three of its first four games. Mike Smith made 42 saves as the Flames rallied past the Kings in a physical effort led by Tkachuk, who scrapped with Drew Doughty and goalie Jonathan Quick in between his goal-scoring exploits.
“The expectation is very high, and it should be,” Jagr said. “There’s a lot of great offensive players. The defense is fantastic. They can move the puck. It’s great. It’s up to us how far we can go.”
Jagr posted a 46-point campaign with Florida last season, and he had several teams interested in him. The Czech star eventually signed a one-year, $1 million deal with Calgary and debuted one week later.
“It’s the next step in his way back here after (starting) without a training camp,” Gulutzan said. “Because you can’t simulate what he got here tonight in those 13 minutes. … We’re going to build. His game is going to come, but this is a building block to get into some real fire.”
And Jagr’s new teammates are thrilled by his presence.
“He’s got so much patience out there,” Monahan said. “(Jagr’s line) had some shifts where it felt like they had the puck for two minutes. It was a great start, and it’s only going to get better.”
Tkachuk tied it with 9:01 left in the third period, capping a roughhouse performance with the second two-goal game of his career.
“Those are passionate games to play, and fun games,” Tkachuk said. “I thought that was a really fun game to watch.”
Smith’s scoreless streak ended just shy of 140 minutes, but the veteran goalie carried Calgary with another stalwart performance. Michael Frolik also scored for Calgary, and Monahan ended it with his second goal of the season.
Dustin Brown scored the tying and go-ahead goals on artful deflections early in the third period for the Kings, who lost for the first time under new coach John Stevens. Los Angeles captain Anze Kopitar also scored, and Quick made 33 saves.
“It wasn’t the greatest start, but we picked ourselves up,” Kopitar said. “We just can’t give away leads.”
Rookie forward Alex Iafallo got his first NHL point on Brown’s tying goal 14 seconds into the third period. Brown expertly redirected Derek Forbort’s shot for the go-ahead goal 1:44 later.
With a three-point game, Brown extended his outstanding start after a rough few seasons with the Kings, who stripped the two-time Stanley Cup champion of his captaincy last year.
“Brownie had a good summer,” Stevens said. “He’s excited about trying to prove that he can still be a good player in the league, and he’s playing like it.”
NOTES: The Kings‘ loss leaves the expansion Golden Knights as the only unbeaten team in the Pacific Division. Vegas is off to the first 3-0-0 start by a first-year franchise in NHL history. … The LA Galaxy’s Romain Alessandrini dropped the ceremonial first puck. … Kings forward Kyle Clifford left in the second period with an upper-body injury.
Flames: Host Ottawa on Friday.
Kings: Host Buffalo on Saturday.
More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/tag/NHLhockey
Copyright © 2017 The Washington Times, LLC.