PITTSBURGH - Jaromir Jagr spent the days leading up to his return to Pittsburgh insisting it wasn't personal. He stressed that he didn't mean to cause hard feelings when he signed with the hated Philadelphia Flyers over the summer instead of with the Penguins, with whom he became a star two decades ago.
The Penguins are just another team, Jagr said - no different than Tampa Bay.
Funny, he didn't play like it.
Seeming to revel in the chance to play the villain, Jagr punctuated his homecoming with his 12th goal of the season in a 4-2 Flyers victory on Thursday night.
"I felt pretty good but I had so many chances that if I would have scored five goals, nobody would be surprised," Jagr said.
One was enough to prove that the 39-year-old Czech Republic native can still summon breathtaking hockey when he needs to.
On the ice
Saturday: Pittsburgh Penguins at New Jersey Devils, 3 p.m.
Jagr missed an open net in the first period, then atoned late in the second. He took a pass from Claude Giroux in the high left slot, fended off Pittsburgh's Brooks Orpik while skating through the zone, and flipped a backhander past goalie Marc-Andre Fleury to give the Flyers a lead they didn't relinquish.
The second-leading scorer in Penguins history briefly raised his arms in triumph, then skated along the boards, offering a stone-faced salute as the Consol Energy Center crowd booed lustily.
"I think it was important for not just him but the whole team to get that goal because he got it pretty tough from the fans," Giroux said. "But I think he kind of liked it a little bit."
Jagr wasn't the only former Penguins player to return in triumph. Max Talbot, who helped Pittsburgh to the 2009 Stanley Cup title, added an empty-net goal in the final seconds as the Flyers remained perfect in Pittsburgh's new building since it opened a year ago.