While trying to help the New Jersey Devils reach the postseason, Jaromir Jagr is on the verge of recording another career milestone.
The 42-year-old Jagr can become the seventh player in NHL history to score his 700th regular-season goal Saturday when the Devils visit the New York Islanders.
Jagr scored the second of New Jersey's three goals in a 2:45 stretch of the first period in Thursday's 5-2 victory over Columbus. It was only the second goal in nine games for Jagr, who leads the team with 18 and is sitting at 699 for a career that began with Pittsburgh in 1990.
His 60 regular-season goals versus New York (23-30-8) are by far his most against any opponent, but he has only one in his last nine against the Islanders.
However, the focus for Jagr and his teammates is getting into playoff position. The Devils (25-22-13), who last won two straight Jan. 21-24, are five points out of the final wild-card spot in the crowded Eastern Conference.
"We're close in the standings," forward Adam Henrique told the NHL's official website after he snapped a seven-game goal drought by scoring twice Thursday.
"We've got to keep moving forward from now on till the end of the season."
The Devils totaled 11 goals and were shut out twice while losing five of seven (2-3-2) before the break, but hope Thursday's offensive performance is the start of something positive. New Jersey was 0 for 12 on the power play in the previous four games but scored on its first two chances against the Blue Jackets and also recorded a short-handed goal.
"I think we stressed (scoring) for a week and to score three early gives you some confidence," said forward Ryane Clowe, who opened the scoring with his fourth goal of the season. ''The key is, and I think it is overlooked, you can't play uptight and you can't worry about it. You have to play free and loose, and to be able to score two on the power play and one short-handed was big."
After sitting Thursday, Martin Brodeur will be in net on Long Island, where he's posted a 1.58 goals-against average while winning four of five. He has a 3.57 GAA during a three-game home skid against the Islanders.
Cory Schneider made 30 saves and Henrique scored as New Jersey snapped a three-game series slide with a 2-1 win at New York on Dec. 28.
Despite the loss of star John Tavares to a season-ending knee injury suffered during the Olympics, the Islanders returned from the break with a 5-4 overtime home win over Toronto on Thursday. Michael Grabner recorded two short-handed goals on the same penalty and recently recalled forward Anders Lee scored twice in the third period for New York, which snapped a five-game skid at Nassau Coliseum and showed some offensive life after totaling seven goals in its previous five contests overall.
"Our singular focus is the task at hand, one period at a time and one game at a time," said coach Jack Capuano, whose team lost seven of eight prior to the break.
Grabner snapped a five-game point drought. Though he was held without a point in the December win over the Devils, Grabner had two goals with an assist in a 4-3 shootout victory at New Jersey on Oct. 4.