DALLAS — Jason Robertson went over the reasons why he got so many shots, so many great scoring opportunities and took advantage of some of them.
“I think we were playing a lot faster, a lot faster, more predictable, with cleaner intervals,” said the Dallas Stars forward after a 3-2 overtime win against the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals at the American Airlines Center on Thursday. “Supporting the puck, holding the pucks more in the offensive zone, doing some rotations, causing some scrambles and giving me a lot of opportunities.”
OK, sure, but the 23-year-old definitely needed to be given more individual credit for his performance, which included scoring both of the Stars’ goals in regulation, because he was a force.
Robertson had 11 shots on goal, easily the most by any player in Game 4; Golden Knights ahead Jack Eichel was next with seven.
Joe Pavelskiwho plays in the top line with Robertson, won on the power play at 3:18 of overtime.
The Golden Knights lead the series best of 7, 3-1. Game 5 is at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday (8 pm ET; ABC, ESPN+, CBC, SN, TVAS).
[RELATED: Complete Golden Knights vs. Stars series coverage]
Asked how Robertson was able to create and shoot so much, Stars coach Peter DeBoer said: “If I knew that, we would practice, teach him and bottle him up. He’s a special athlete. That’s a special skill. to be a top scorer. But when he’s feeling it, like I said, he looks like a totally different player, and that’s what he’s feeling right now.”
After scoring two goals in the first two rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Robertson scored four goals in as many games against the Golden Knights. In his ice time of 19:25 on Thursday, he also had two hits and two blocks.
“He scores, makes plays, blocks some shots too”, linemate Roope Hintz he said. “That’s great for the team. You see him blocking shots too. We’re all in.”
Video: VGK@DAL, Gm4: Robertson ties game with PPG in 1st
The Stars were definitely all out on Thursday because, trailing 3-0 in the series, they didn’t have much of a choice. They arguably played their best game this postseason, winning in overtime after losing the first four, including Games 1 and 2 of this series.
Granted, there was concern as the Golden Knights took a 1-0 lead courtesy of the forward William Karlsson 4:17 in the game. But Oettinger kept his cool, making 37 saves.
The rest of the stars followed suit.
“We had great mindset tonight, we had great energy, great focus,” said DeBoer. “We didn’t think we should have lost 3-0. Game 3 self-inflicted. Game 2 we had that game in our control and we found a way to lose it. So we wanted to make sure we took care of business, and we did and now you have to do it again.”
Video: VGK@DAL, Gm4: Robertson equalizes late in the 2nd period
After that it was the Robertson show. His first goal was when he deflected a shot from the defender Miro Heiskanen, then hit the puck in the air twice to tie the game at 1–1 at 15:42 of the first period on the power play. The second, moments after hitting the post, was when he knocked the puck off the back wall and knocked it past the Golden Knights goalkeeper. adin hillglove side of to make it 2-2 at 17:21 in the second period.
“Just taking control of the game, so confident,” Oettinger said of Robertson. “When he’s at his best, he’s just not thinking and shooting first and making everyone around him better. He was the best player on our team by far. We’re going to need him to keep doing that.”
Dallas knew he needed everyone to make up for the captain’s absence. Jamie Bennwho was suspended two games by the NHL Department of Player Safety for cross-checking the Vegas forward Mark Stone in Game 3 on Tuesday. Robertson did that and then some, helping the Stars live to see another game.
“Some players need to excel in Jamie Benn’s absence, we are looking for goals and that is a responsibility I place on myself,” he said. “I know these playoffs were difficult, but I know I’ve said it before, I play in a very good line, with players who are too good not to create chances and opportunities, to create rebounds.
“I was able to get the jumps we needed tonight. I just have to keep working with it, working towards it. They would eventually come, and when you get that opportunity, you have to finish it. I have to do it again on Saturday.”