June 21st, 2024

Robertson’s hat trick powers Stars over Oilers for 2-1 series lead in WCF

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 – Connor McDavid was flying. The Edmonton Oilers were buzzing.

An orange-and-blue Rogers Place bubbled with excitement following the home side’s electric opening 20 minutes Monday.

The dazed Dallas Stars wobbled down the tunnel to the locker room.

They emerged for the second period a completely different team.

Jason Robertson scored twice in quick succession after the intermission to erase a 2-0 deficit before completing his first playoff hat trick with a bank-shot winner in the third as Dallas topped Edmonton 5-3 to take a 2-1 lead in the NHL’s Western Conference final.

“A real good start,” said McDavid, who had a goal and an assist as part of his team’s early barrage. “I’m not sure where those 10, 15 minutes come from, but it’s as bad as it’s been throughout the playoffs.”

Dallas scored three times and led 13-0 on the shot clock in the second before Edmonton finally tested Stars goaltender Jake Oettinger.

“Complete reversal,” Oilers head coach Kris Knoblauch said. “They were really ready to come out hard and have a good push, and we were hoping things would just continue sailing. Took our foot off the pedal.”

Wyatt Johnston and Miro Heiskanen, into the empty net, provided the rest of the offence for Dallas. Oettinger made 26 saves. Roope Hintz, Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn registered two assists each.

Zach Hyman and Adam Henrique had the other goals for Edmonton, which got 17 stops from Stuart Skinner.

Henrique returned to the lineup after sitting out seven of the last eight contests 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.

Dallas, which re-established home-ice advantage, was the league’s best regular-season road team and 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.

After the Oilers, who also had a strong first before Dallas also responded in Saturday’s 3-1 road loss that evened the series, controlled things early and the Stars grabbed momentum back in the second period, the teams played a fairly even third.

Vincent Desharnais rattled the post on a one-timer on Edmonton’s best chance before Robertson snapped a 3-3 tie at 11:54 on a shot from below the goal line for his sixth of the playoffs that squeezed through Skinner.

“You want to help the team win, you want to score goals,” said Robertson, who hadn’t found the back of the net since Game 6 of the first round. “Scoring one gives you confidence “¦ like a domino effect.”

“Pretty good play,” Skinner said. “But something that I gotta save.”

The Oilers came out of the gate flying inside a deafening rink.

McDavid wheeled out of the corner and fired a shot that went in off Hyman just 2:02 into the game for his league-leading 13th of the playoffs.

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 the 100th post-season point of his career.

The Stars reset and pushed back in impressive fashion.

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

“I like the word ‘contagious,'” Robertson said. “One line goes, another line sees that, they see them doing the right thing – winning battles, putting the puck in good spots, not turning the puck over. That line sees it, then the next line sees it, then the next line sees it.

“A combination of all our lines doing the right thing.

Johnston made it 3-2 just 63 seconds later to completed the three-goal deluge in 3:33 with his eighth to further silence the stunned crowd.

“They went up a couple levels and we went down a few levels,” McDavid said. “You see the difference.”

“No matter what the score is, especially being in the third round, you know that the teams aren’t just gonna let you play and win,” Skinner added. “We definitely learned that today.”

The Oilers goaltender made a breakaway stop on Mason Marchment to keep his team down by two.

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 before the Stars made one more play in the third.

“Losing sucks,” McDavid said. “Series are short and you only get a handful of games.

“We were able to wrestle it back, but just don’t find a way again.”

EXCLUSIVE COMPANY

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

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

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Follow @JClipperton_CP on X.

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