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Pittsgurgh Edges Devils 3-2

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Jaromir Jagr showed the New Jersey Devils on Thursday night why he's worth every penny of a $48 million contract he's about to sign with the Pittsburgh Pengiuns.

Jagr scored a goal early to get Pittsburgh going and set up another to kill a New Jersey rally in leading the Penguins to a 3-2 win over the Devils.

"When he is on top of his game like he was tonight, all you can say is `Woo,"' said Devils center Bobby Holik, who has played on the Czech Republic national team with Jagr. "Who's going to stop him?"

The Devils certainly didn't in one of the final games Jagr will play under his old contract. He is set to sign a new four-year contract extension through the year 2002-2003. He will earn about $48 million over the next six years.

"It's legalese," co-owner Roger Marino said in the Penguins locker after the game. "That's what I'm led to believe. It was a hard-fought six-year deal. We've been through a lot of struggling at this point. It's a good contract for Jagr. It's a good contract for us."

It was a bad game for the Devils, who only showed up for the third period.

Scott Niedermayer got them within a goal at 7:47, but Penguins goaltender Tom Barrasso made five big saves down the stretch to send New Jersey to only its seventh loss at home in 27 games.

Barrasso's best save was a pad stop on a re-direction in front by Holik with 8:35 to play.

"It looked like they had a sure goal to tie it and I was able to get my leg on it," Barrasso said. "...Coming down the stretch that's what you play for, at least what I do. To be in a situation like that where the game is on the line and you see if you can rise to the occasion."

Defenseman Kevin Hatcher scored a shorthanded goal and Stu Barnes was the beneficiary of Jagr's great assist as the Penguins won the battle of the neutral zone traps.

Jagr got the Penguins going early, beating Martin Brodeur with a bad-angle shot that went into the net off the back of the goaltender's leg.

"The most important thing is we scored first," Jagr said of his 22nd goal. "It's important against teams that play the trap very well. Then we scored the second and they had to open up the game."

Hatcher put Pittsburgh ahead 2-0 by collecting a loose puck in center ice, skating into the Devils' zone and beating Brodeur between the legs with 21 seconds left in the first period.

Brian Rolston gave the Devils' a momentarily lift by scoring on a breakaway at 8:54 on New Jersey's first shot of the second period.

Jagr helped restore the two-goal lead just 1:36 later. He skated around the net holding off defenseman Lyle Odelein with one hand and then found Barnes in shooting position 15 feet in front of Brodeur. It was Barnes' fourth goal in the last two games against the Devils.

"He is the best player probably in the league one on one," said Brodeur, who finished with 17 saves. "He is really skilled and you have to pay attention when he is out there."

Niedermayr got the Devils back in the game by scoring from the right circle at 7:47 of what turned out to be an exciting third period.

Barrasso, who finished with 24 saves, also made a good in-close save on Dave Andreychuk in the closing minutes.

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