Penguins hope for home boost from Jaromir Jagr against Kings

Penguins hope for home boost from Jaromir Jagr against Kings

The Pittsburgh Penguins' game Sunday against the visiting Los Angeles Kings comes at the end of a celebratory weekend, but their reality hasn't changed.The Penguins, in an uphill struggle to get into

The Pittsburgh Penguins’ game Sunday against the visiting Los Angeles Kings comes at the end of a celebratory weekend, but their reality hasn’t changed.The Penguins, in an uphill struggle to get into the playoffs, are coming off a solid 4-1 win Thursday at Chicago. That came after a three-game losing streak.”We had an urgency that we need to roll over into future games,” Pittsburgh defenseman Ryan Graves said.The Penguins could have a different sort of motivation Sunday.In an extended pregame ceremony, Pittsburgh will retire the No. 68 jersey of Jaromir Jagr and raise it to the rafters.It’s been quite a weekend with Jagr, who played his first 11 seasons with the Penguins as the yin to Mario Lemieux’s yang and won two Stanley Cups en route to finishing his NHL career second only to Wayne Gretzky in points.Jagr still plays occasional games for the team he owns in his hometown of Kladno in Czechia, and celebrated his 52nd birthday Thursday in Pittsburgh.He held court with several former teammates at a public event Friday night, then got into full gear and did drills with the current Penguins at practice Saturday, also visiting and laughing with the players in the locker room.Jagr told Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan that he didn’t want to be a distraction. Sullivan told him, “You’re actually an inspiration.”Perhaps that and the win over the Blackhawks could send the Penguins on a run.”People have been trying to write us off all year, and I think it’s been easy to do because of where we sit in the standings,” Graves said. “But if we can string a few (wins) together, we’re right back in the hunt. There’s no doubt in this group.”The Kings, meanwhile, are holding onto a wild-card spot in the Western Conference but have struggled at times. They could be catching a groove.

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