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Veteran forward Jaromir Jagr will look to continue his climb up the ladder on an impressive NHL all-time list Thursday when the Florida Panthers play the second contest of a five-game homestand against the Boston Bruins.
Jagr notched three assists in Florida’s 4-3 shootout victory over Buffalo on Tuesday to pull even with Mark Messier for second place in points (1,887) while goaltender Roberto Luongo made 33 saves to move into a tie for fifth place in wins (447) with Terry Sawchuk.
“Right now, I just enjoy every moment I get a chance to play in this league and try to do everything I can to stay in this league. I love it so much,” said the 44-year-old Jagr, who has 13 points (five goals, eight assists) in his last 16 games. “I know when I said I want to play ’til 50 everybody was laughing at me, but I’ll work every day to do it.”
The 37-year-old Luongo will get the night off Thursday and be in net on Friday night when Florida hosts Detroit.
Luongo came up short in both outings versus Boston this season, with David Pastrnak scoring 1:23 into overtime for a 4-3 victory on Dec. 5.
The 20-year-old Pastrnak could return to the lineup on Thursday and is considered day-to-day after having surgery to remove the olecranon bursa on his right elbow.
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ABOUT THE BRUINS (17-14-3): Boston dropped a 4-2 decision to the skidding New York Islanders on Tuesday for its sixth loss in eight games to see its lead over fourth-place Florida dwindle to just two points.
Tuukka Rask yielded three goals on 13 shots to earn the quick hook on Tuesday, but has turned aside 60 of 64 shots versus Florida this season to improve his career mark to a staggering 17-3-1 with a 1.55 goals-against average and .949 save percentage.
Jimmy Hayes has shown a pulse with a goal and an assist over his last two games, but his three points in 29 games this season remain well off the pace of the career-high 35 he registered with Florida during the 2014-15 season.
ABOUT THE PANTHERS (15-13-5): Like Jagr, Aleksander Barkov recorded a three-point performance versus the Sabres and has erupted for 20 points in his last 21 contests to claim the team lead in assists (17) and points (25).
The 21-year-old Finn scored in this month’s road contest against Boston, but has done far more damage at home with 15 points (four goals, 11 assists) at BB&T Center.
Former Bruin Reilly Smith showed signs of pulling himself out of a season-long funk with two goals and two assists in his previous three games before being held off the scoresheet versus Buffalo.
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- Boston plays nine of its next 11 games on the road.
- The Panthers are 0-for-10 on the power play versus the Bruins this season.
- Boston is just 2-for-35 with the man advantage in the last 12 games and 0-for-6 versus Florida in 2016-17.
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