Jagr Injury Minor, May Play

A car splashes water and mud while driving East on North Frontage Road by Interstate 20/59 during a heavy rain storm in Meridian, Miss., March 9, 2006. Wind gusts were reported as high as 85 mph during the storm in Mississippi.
AP/The Meridian Star, Kyle Carter

Jaromir Jagr's thigh injury felt much better Wednesday and the NHL scoring leader said he probably will play Thursday night at Tampa Bay.

Jagr gave the Pittsburgh Penguins a scare Tuesday night when he left early in the first period of a 3-2 victory over Buffalo, complaining of tightness in his right leg.

He was initially diagnosed as having a strained groin, the same injury that bothered him throughout the playoffs last season.

But after being examined Wednesday, Jagr said the injury is in the thigh area just below his right groin. He also said the pain is not nearly as bad as it was last spring, when he could barely skate while sitting out four games of the Penguins' first-round upset of New Jersey.

"I'm glad it's not the groin like before," Jagr said. "I think I'm going to play, but I don't know yet. It's getting a lot better."

Jagr didn't know Tuesday how bad the injury was because it was numbed by painkillers he was taking for an injured finger. He first felt a twinge in the thigh during the Penguins' 6-2 victory Saturday over Nashville.

Jagr played barely three minutes Tuesday and left the ice after he couldn't catch up to teammate Kip Miller on a 2-on-1 break.

"I felt something in the Nashville game, but we were up 6-2 so I didn't skate too hard at the end," Jagr said following the Penguins' off-day practice. "Then, it happened again (Tuesday), so we decided I should come out. They didn't know how bad it was because I was taking pain killers for the finger. I could have made it worse if I would have come back, so I stayed out."

Jagr did not figure in any of the Penguins' three goals Tuesday, ending his season-long 15-game scoring streak. He has 33 points on 14 goals and a league-high 19 assists in 16 games and is on pace for a 170-point season.

"If I cared about the streak, I would have come back," Jagr said. "And if I came back, maybe it would be worse, and I would be out for maybe five games. But they need me, especially right now, because we're on a streak."

The Penguins have won two in a row and three of four since an eight-game winless streak dropped them into last place in the Northeast Division.

Jagr said Tuesday's victory was significant heading into a two-game Florida road trip because it proved the Penguins can win even if he doesn't play. He missed only one regular-season game last season before being sidelined for the four games against New Jersey.

"This isn't a one-man team," Jagr said. "We started scoring more goals.

  • That gets the confidence back for some players who did not score before."
  • Coach Kevin Constantine was glad to hear that Jagr may play Thusday, but was just as encouraged by his team's defensive play after Buffalo sliced the Penguins' lead to 3-2 late in the second period. The Sabres did not score in the third period against goaltender Jean-Sebastien Aubin.

    "We've played in the past without him," Constantine said. "And like I've said before, in the long run, it certainly isn't our choice to play without Jaromir. We'd like to have him in every game we play, but when he isn't around you still have to play and you have to play through it.

    "We gave them about half the scoring chances we usually give, so we put a solid game together. Not explosive offensively, but we got the goals we needed and played solid defensively. And that's the way we'll have to continue to play if Jaromir is out of the lineup."

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