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Jagr's goal helps Flyers defeat Penguins

PITTSBURGH - Jaromir Jagr has scored 658 goals in his sensational career, but the one he scored Thursday had to be one of the most satisfying.

PITTSBURGH - Jaromir Jagr has scored 658 goals in his sensational career, but the one he scored Thursday had to be one of the most satisfying.

No, it didn't come in the heat of the playoffs, and it didn't come in the closing seconds of a tie game.

Instead, it was scored against his former team and a city that has scorned him ever since he nixed a chance to rejoin the Penguins and signed with the Flyers.

Jagr snapped a 1-1 tie by scoring on a backhander to the short side in the second period, sparking the Flyers to a 4-2 win over the Penguins before a raucous, then quiet, sellout crowd at the Consol Energy Center.

"It was big for him - I guess the boos got him going," said center Sean Couturier after picking up a pair of assists in his first game since Dec. 17. "Typical Jagr goal."

"It was one of the better-looking ones," Jagr said when asked where the goal ranked. "I'm glad it wasn't off my [rear] or off my leg. . . . It's nice to score, and we win the hockey game. I was a little bit scared when they scored the second one. They got the momentum, and the fans got into the game."

In a game in which the fans booed with gusto each time Jagr touched the puck, the 39-year-old winger smiled and gave a trademark salute as he was mobbed by teammates following his 12th goal of the season.

For HBO's 24/7 crew, which is filming every second, it was a theatrical, must-see-TV moment.

For the Flyers, it steered them to a win that snapped a two-game losing streak and moved them two points ahead of the Penguins, who had their four-game winning streak halted.

"You've got to enjoy every moment," Jagr said of his salute. "I don't know how many games I'm going to play. Every game could be my last game. I'm happy for every goal I can score."

An animated woman was screaming at Jagr as he saluted. What did she say to him?

"She didn't salute me back," Jagr cracked. "Maybe next time."

Tyler Kennedy cut the Flyers' lead to 3-2 when he put a right-circle blast into the upper right corner with 6 minutes, 29 seconds left, but the Flyers killed off a too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty about two minutes later.

"That was a huge penalty kill," Jagr said.

Max Talbot, another ex-Penguin, iced it with an empty-net goal with 24.9 seconds left.

"It's not me and Jags - tonight was the Flyers and the Penguins, and I'm just glad we got the two points," said Talbot, who said a video tribute to him the Penguins showed during the first period was "special" and showed the organization's "class."

Before the game, Jagr claimed it was "no big deal to me" to return to the city where he started his Hall of Fame career and helped the Penguins win two Stanley Cups.

It was a big deal to Penguins fans. They felt Jagr had toyed with them when he strongly considered signing with Pittsburgh last summer. To add to their pain, he signed with their bitter cross-state rivals.

So every time No. 68 touched the puck Thursday, boos could be heard from the Consol Energy Center to the Roberto Clemente Bridge. They did give Jagr one particularly loud cheer - when Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik knocked him on his rear midway through the second period.

One jeering fan held up a Flyers jersey that had an obscene version of Jagr's name on the back. It was shown on the scoreboard as the crowd roared its approval.

Jagr quieted them when he made a clever move in the slot, and his backhander beat Marc-Andre Fleury to the short side, giving the Flyers a 2-1 lead with 13:57 left in the second period.

"It was important, not only for him but for the whole team to get that goal," said Claude Giroux, who had two assists and boosted his league-leading points total to 46. "He got it pretty tough from the fans, but I think he kind of liked it a little bit."

A little over 10 minutes after Jagr's goal, Matt Read made it 3-1, knocking in a rebound of Couturier's shot.

The Flyers, who were aided by Kimmo Timonen's first goal of the season, were on their way to giving backup goalie Sergei Bobrovsky his fifth win in his last six decisions. The Flyers are 4-0 at the Consol Energy Center since it opened last season, with Bobrovsky getting all four wins.