(Reuters) - Czech Jaromir Jagr became the second highest points scorer of all time in the National Hockey League (NHL) when the Florida Panthers winger collected an assist for Aleksander Barkov against the Boston Bruins on Thursday.
The 44-year-old reached 1,888 points at 13.20 minutes into the third period to move past Hall of Famer Mark Messier and now trails only the 'Great One' Wayne Gretzky, who ended his career with a staggering tally of 2,857 points.
Barkov scored Florida's only goal in a 3-1 loss to Boston, pouncing on the rebound after Jagr's deflection of a long-range shot from defenseman Michael Matheson had ricocheted off Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask.
Officials reviewed the play to confirm the assist, then Jagr thumped his chest in celebration and gave the fans a thumbs-up.
As the BB&T Center crowd in Florida cheered loudly for Jagr, the Panthers briefly halted the game to present the Czech with a ceremonial gold stick in honour of the milestone. "I appreciate everything that has happened to me," Jagr, who won two Stanley Cup titles with the Pittsburgh Penguins, said on the ice after being presented with the stick.
"I have played with so many great players during my hockey career... and I thank the fans."
Messier, who played with Jagr for the New York Rangers in 2003-04, congratulated the Czech in a video message displayed on the giant scoreboard screen: "It is an honour for me to pass this baton on to you."
Jagr has played 1,663 games for eight NHL teams since being selected by the Penguins as the fifth overall pick in the 1990 draft.
His 1,888 tally includes 755 goals and 1,133 assists.
(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in St Augustine, Florida; Editing by Peter Rutherford/John O'Brien)