Jason Robertson may have been exhausted late in overtime but the Dallas Stars forward pounced on an opportunity for a breakaway.
Robertson scored his third goal of the game 4:30 into overtime to give the Stars a 4-3 victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Friday at Canada Life Centre.
“I was out there for a while,” said Robertson, who acknowledged being tired. “When the puck turns over, I didn’t stop, I kept moving my feet and you just find that extra ounce of energy to go down there.
“I can’t lie, I love breakaways. I want a breakaway, so I find whatever energy is left to get that.”
Stars coach Rick Bowness said that Robertson’s hat trick underscored how talented he is offensively.
“Listen, he’s a natural goal scorer,” he said. “He’s got a great touch around the net and he loves to score. His poise with the puck and where to put it and when to put it, you can’t teach those instincts that he has. You just can’t, and he has those natural instincts goal scorers have.”
The overtime winner took Robertson up to 26 goals on the season, nine more than he had in the entire 2020-21 campaign.
“I always have that confidence in me,” he said. “I always want to have that creativity. The guys on the ice have been able to find me in an open space so kudos to them. I’m a skilled player and that’s what I’m out there to do.”
Denis Gurianov scored the tying goal late in the third period for Dallas (31-20-3). Braden Holtby made 39 saves in net for the win before 13,466 fans at Canada: Life Centre.
“(Holtby) was outstanding for us, and he had to be because of the penalties which are uncharacteristic of our team,” Bowness said. “You take that many penalties, it killed the flow of our game and we spent too much time in our zone because we lost the energy. Braden, he made some huge, huge saves. He was great.”
The Jets scored only one power-play goal on six opportunities.
“It was a big game for us, especially when they came out hard,” Holtby said. “At times, you could tell they were a desperate team. We held our ground and got some big goals and big plays. This point in the season, it doesn’t matter how you beat them.”
Paul Stastny scored two goals for the Jets (24-21-10) and Kyle Connor added one. Goalie Connor Hellebuyck stopped 30 shots for Winnipeg.
“I think, if we’re going to lose, I’d rather lose like this rather than where two weeks ago where we are getting outshot 2 to 1 and we find a way to get a point,” Stastny said. “We had our chances.”
Gurianov’s screened shot from the point beat Hellebuyck with 4:32 left in the third period to tie the game 3-3 and send it into overtime.
Stastny had given the Jets a 3-2 lead at 12:19 of the third when he converted a pass from behind the net from Blake Wheeler. Connor pounced on an Evgeny Svechnikov rebound and got the puck past Holtby off a Dallas defenceman at the 1:21 mark.
The Stars had taken a 2-1 lead into the third period. After Nikolaj Ehlers fell inside the Dallas blue line, the Stars had a two-on-one. Robertson converted that with a backhand shot after taking a pass from defenceman Thomas Harley at 19:09 of the second.
Stastny had knotted the score at 1-1 on a second-period power play. He converted a pretty pass from forward Andrew Copp with Stars forward Riley Tufte off for slashing at 13:23.
The Stars opened the scoring at the 5:23 mark of the first period. Robertson accepted a pass from Suter at the point, then completely deked Hellebuyck to the ice and slid a backhand into the empty net.
It was the second of a four-game homestand for Winnipeg, who will play host to the New York Rangers on Sunday.
The Stars will face the Wild in Minnesota on Sunday
NOTES: Jets forward Nikolaj Ehlers returned to action after missing 19 games with a torn MCL. … Jets defenceman Nathan Beaulieu hobbled off the ice late in the first period after a collision and did not return.