June 23rd, 2024

Robertson powers Stars over Oilers for 2-1 lead in Western Conference final

By Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press on May 27, 2024.

Dallas Stars left wing Jason Robertson (21) celebrates a goal against the Edmonton Oilers during third period third-round NHL playoff action in Edmonton on Monday May 27, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

EDMONTON – Jason Robertson completed his first-career playoff hat trick midway through the third period as the Dallas Stars defeated the Edmonton Oilers 5-3 on Monday to take a 2-1 lead in the NHL’s Western Conference final.

Wyatt Johnston and Miro Heiskanen, into the empty net, had the other goal for Dallas. Jake Oettinger made 26 saves. Roope Hintz, Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn had two assists each.

Connor McDavid, with a goal and an assist to give him 100 career playoff points, Zach Hyman and Adam Henrique replied for Edmonton, which got 17 stops from Stuart Skinner.

Dallas, which re-established home-ice advantage with the victory and owned the league’s best regular-season road record, is now 6-1 in the playoffs away from American Airlines Center.

Game 4 of the best-of-seven series goes Wednesday in the Alberta capital.

Henrique returned to the lineup after sitting out seven of Edmonton’s last eight games with a suspected ankle injury. Hintz, the Stars’ No. 1 centre, was also back following a four-game absence because of an upper-body injury.

When a best-of-seven conference final or semifinal is tied 1-1, the winner of Game 3 has gone on to win the series 77 per cent of the time (59-18).

After the Oilers dominated the opening 20 minutes and the Stars grabbed momentum back in the second period, Robertson snapped a 3-3 tie at 11:54 of the third on a jam play that squeezed through Skinner.

Edmonton pulled the goaltender late looking to force overtime, but Heiskanen iced it into an empty net with 1:52 left in regulation.

The Oilers came out flying in the first inside a deafening Rogers Place.

McDavid wheeled out of the corner and fired a shot that went in off Hyman just 2:02 into the game as he battled with Stars defenceman Ryan Suter for position in front for his NHL-leading 13th goal of the playoffs.

Edmonton, which got just three power-play opportunities in Dallas through two games, got its first opportunity a few minutes later, with Oettinger denying Leon Draisaitl on a one-timer.

The Oilers went ahead 2-0 at 7:37 when blueliner Mattias Ekholm circled the Stars net and fired a pass for McDavid, who won a battle with Seguin for the puck in the crease for the superstar captain’s fourth – and second of the series after his double overtime goal in Game 1.

The Stars pushed back in impressive fashion coming out of the intermission.

Robertson blasted his fourth at 5:35 of the second on a one-timer past Skinner’s ear before shovelling another upstairs on the Edmonton goaltender at 8:05 as Dallas came in waves against the disjointed, flat home side.

Johnston then made it 3-2 just 63 seconds later to completed the three-goal barrage in 3:33 with his eighth in front of a stunned crowd.

Skinner made a huge breakaway stop on Mason Marchment to keep his team down by two as the Stars would eventually lead 13-0 on the shot clock in the period before the Oilers finally tested Oettinger.

Edmonton finally steadied itself after taking those hard body blows, and got back even with 52.5 seconds left in the period when Henrique redirected his second upstairs from in close. Skinner denied Matt Duchene at the other end on a big stop to keep the teams even through 40 minutes.

EXCLUSIVE COMPANY

Only four players in NHL history have reached 100 playoff points faster than McDavid: Wayne Gretzky (46 games), Mario Lemieux (50 games), Draisaitl (60 games) and Jari Kurri (67 games).

PERRY’S INFLUENCE

Henrique’s return added a veteran voice on the bench, but another battled-tested teammate continued to watch from the press box.

Oilers winger Corey Perry, a former Hart Trophy winner and Stanley Cup champion, was a healthy scratch for a fifth straight game.

McDavid said Monday morning the 39-year-old still brings value to the group.

“Just because guys aren’t playing doesn’t mean they’re not big pieces in the room,” he said.

DARK TIMES

Stars head coach Pete DeBoer was with the Vegas Golden Knights when the NHL used Rogers Place as one of its two tightly controlled “bubbles” amid the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

Dallas eliminated Vegas in the semis before losing to Tampa Bay Lightning in the Stanley Cup final.

“A little PTSD walking in here every time,” DeBoer joked before Game 3. “It was a great experience. It was an experience I would never sign up for again.

“It was a social experiment. We were essentially locked up for 60 days.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 27, 2024.

Follow @JClipperton_CP on X.

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