Despite playing with a sore wrist, Jagr collected two goals and two assists to lead the Capitals to a 6-3 victory over the Lightning and a commanding two games to none lead in their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.
"We jumped on them in the first period," Jagr said. "They had some chances and we stopped them and things started to settle down. I just try to get 1-on-1. That's what I am always looking for. When I have it, I am always going to go for it."
Jagr opened the scoring 4:47 into the game, immediately dispelling any doubts about the status of the wrist he broke last month. After carrying the puck along the right boards, he maneuvered around defenseman Stan Neckar and flicked a shot past goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin.
"That's Jags. I had fun watching that one from the bench," Caps right wing Peter Bondra said. "That was a big goal for us and we built on it."
The All-Star winger helped double Washington's lead just under 2 1/2 minutes later by setting up the first of Bondra's two goals. After taking a pass from Jagr at the right edge of the crease, Bondra gathered his own rebound and stuffed it past Khabibulin.
"They tried to double-team Jagr sometimes and that's when I jumped into the hole and took the puck to the net," Bondra said.
Jagr struck again with 76 seconds left in the period to restore the Capitals' two-goal lead after Vaclav Prospal put Tampa Bay on the board. Taking advantage of a goalmouth scramble that left Khabibulin sprawling, Jagr collected a pass from Robert Lang in the left faceoff circle and snapped it into a half-empty open net.
Jagr also picked up an assist on Michael Nylander's power-play goal 99 seconds into the second period, tying his playoff career high for points. He also had four for the Pittsburgh Penguins in a 7-0 rout of Washington on April 13, 2000.
"I saw it enough when he played for Pittsburgh," goalie Olaf Kolzig said. "I'd like to say I feel bad for Nik, but now he knows how I felt three years ago - 7-0, 2-1 overtime, you name it."
Bondra, who chipped in an assist, also equaled playoff career highs for goals and points. His second goal, a snap shot from the bottom of the right circle, gave Washington a 5-2 lead in the third.
"They've been right on top of us and a step ahead of us," Lightning defenseman Dan Boyle said. "It's tough to play catch-up hockey against guys like Jagr, Bondra and Kolzig."
Kolzig made 40 saves for Washington, which hosts Game Three on Tuesday.
"We need to win four and we're halfway there," Caps first-year coach Bruce Cassidy said. "But probably when we look back tomorrow and evaluate that we've won two in a row in a tough building against a tough hockey club, we'll get a little more excited. It's two down, two to go and we're trying to stay as business-like as possible."
Kolzig was tested early but came up with a pad save on a close-range backhander by Brad Richards. Less than a minute later, he was caught out of position and left an open net for Alexander Svitov, but the rookie hit the left goalpost.
"They came at us pretty hard," Kolzig said. "They got a couple of chances right off the bat and got the crowd into it. The energy was flowing for them. But when Jags scored, it seemed to take a little wind out of their sail, and we responded a few minutes later and made it 2-0."
The Lightning quickly grew undisciplined, giving up four power plays in the first period, including a 66-second 5-on-3 with just over two minutes to go.
The lack of discipline carried to the second period, when Nylander took advantage of a penalty on defenseman Cory Sarich and extended Washington's lead to 4-1.
"We have to find a way to win and channel our intensity the right way," Tampa Bay right wing Martin St. Louis said. "We demonstrated our inexperience tonight and each time, they took advantage of it. I thought our intensity level was there and we went to the net and made some things happen, but we had too many mistakes. And that was costly."
Prospal scored Tampa Bay's first goal of the playoffs midway through the opening period. After St. Louis collided with two Caps to open the ice, Prospal got a rebound at the top of the crease and backhanded it between Kolzig's pads.
Fredrik Modin and Dave Andreychuk had the other goals for the Lightning, who have not recorded a postseason home win since April 21, 1996.
With his team giving up seven power plays, Khabibulin stopped 24 shots and surrendered as many as five goals for just the fifth time this season.