Can the Edmonton Oilers show up for a full 60 minutes in Game 4?

Game 3 could have been a blowout after 20 minutes, but it wasn’t. Sports is all about woulda, coulda, shoulda

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After Jason Robertson’s hat-trick goal in the third period in Game 3, a scorer’s stuff job on Stuart Skinner, not so surprisingly nary a single ball-cap sailed onto the ice behind enemy lines at Rogers Place.

“That’s OK, I was mentally throwing mine,” kidded linemate Tyler Seguin.

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This was the real Robertson the Shooter, affectionately called Robo in Dallas.

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After going 10 straight games without a playoff snipe, just three in his first 14 games, Robertson was back to being automatic. The winger, whose had 116 goals over the past three regular-seasons and his centre Roope Hintz, back after missing four games with a suspected hand injury, rallied the asleep-at-the-wheel Stars from a two-goal first-period hole. It added up to an “uh-oh” 5-3 victory over the Edmonton Oilers Monday night.

Double the trouble for the Oilers in this Western Conference final series if Robertson gets hot and Hintz does what Hintz does as their best all-purpose, fast forward.

It was a crushing loss for the Oilers in a wild mood swing for the home fans. The Oilers showed the ultimate dichotomy to their game, looking like the 80s Oilers in the first 20 minutes, playing keepaway with the puck, then turning into the current woebegone San Jose Sharks over a dreadful first 13 minutes of the second when outshot 14-0 and outscored 3-zip.

And, at the other end of the scale we got a resounding, gut-check by the Stars, with Robertson their brightest star.

He blistered a 25-footer past Skinner after some woeful Oilers defensive work — far too much stick checking and nobody knocking anybody in a visiting sweater onto their keister — then he lifted a backhand in traffic over Skinner to tie it 2 ½ minutes later, again with the Oilers flailing and failing to get the puck to safety. In the third, he did what scorer’s do, finding a hole the size of a pop can lid, and got a five-footer past Skinner for the winner with eight minutes left.

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Edmonton Oilers Dallas Stars
The Dallas Stars’ Roope Hintz (24) and Jason Robertson (21) celebrate a goal against the Edmonton Oilers during second period NHL playoff action at Rogers Place, in Edmonton Monday May 27, 2024. Photo by David Bloom /Postmedia

“Goal-scorers like him, you need one to drop, then all of a sudden it looks like a soccer net,” said Stars’ coach Peter DeBoer, who kept saying he wasn’t gnashing his teeth over Robertson’s drought. “He’s always been streaky…scorers like him are like that and having Roope back obviously helps. But I’ve liked his game even without Roope. The tail-end of the Colorado series and the first two games of the one with the Oilers without our No. 1 centre, I thought everyone was doing some heavy lifting.”

That said, Hintz, who finished in the top six in the Selke voting for top two-way forward, is a cut above any of the other Dallas forwards. He took a shot on his hand/wrist/arm in Game 4 of the Colorado series, and against the Oilers the Finnish centre had two assists, pushed the pace and played almost 18 minutes.

He’s a No. 1 pivot.

“Maybe it’s not (Connor) McDavid, but it’s (Leon) Draisaitl or (Mika) Zibanejad or (Sasha) Barkov in Florida…you take those type of players out of your line-up and it affects all parts of your game, and the individuals in your line-up. There’s a trickle down effect, that’s reality. We gutted it out while he was out. I’m really proud of how we handled his absence,” said DeBoer, who could properly slot Wyatt Johnston and Matt Duchene at centre with Hintz back.

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“Somebody asked me in the morning if it felt awhile and sure you want to score goals. You get one and it’s a domino affect,” said Robertson, who had 87 goals in 2021-22 and 2022-23 before 29 this season.“

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“They might be talking about the goalie (Skinner giving it up) but the third one was the most Robo-type goal,” said Seguin, applauding Robertson’s ability to stay calm and jam the puck past Skinner, hugging the post.

“I work with our goalie coach on ways to score goals. I think having the first two gave me the confidence to try that play. Roope said he was wide-open,” laughed Robertson. “Just a big goal for us.”

And a big return from Hintz. “You see Roope’s speed, how he can drive a line through the neutral zone. It’s not easy coming back after a week or two off but he didn’t miss a beat. He was first on pucks on the forecheck. When there was a race he won them, if not all of them,” said Robertson.

Certainly over the last 40 minutes. In the first, not so much. The NHL logo is officially on the game pucks but it looked like the Oilers logo instead.

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Edmonton Oilers Dallas Stars
The Dallas Stars’ Jason Robertson (21), Tyler Seguin (91) and Roope Hintz (24) celebrate a goal against the Edmonton Oilers during third period NHL playoff action at Rogers Place, in Edmonton Monday May 27, 2024. The Stars won 5-3. Photo by David Bloom /Postmedia

Even with Robertson’s heroics and the return of Hintz (the Oilers also got a strong game out of their returning forward Adam Henrique who scored off a dandy feed from Connor Brown to tie it 3-3), the Oilers ran the Stars out of the building early.

“I don’t remember the first goal (McDavid shot off Hyman), but I certainly remembered the second with Connor getting in behind me,” said Seguin.

While the walls were closing in on the Stars early on, nobody was throwing anything against said walls in their dressing room after Zach Hyman and McDavid scored in the first period, with McDavid looking like a bull charging out of the chute at a rodeo, looking to create some damage and causing tons of pain.

Maybe because the Stars are now 6-1 on the road in the playoffs. Maybe because they were outshot 16-4 in Game 2 in the first period in Dallas and it was 1-1. Sports is all about woulda, coulda, shoulda.

It could have been a blowout after 20 minutes, but it wasn’t.

Stars showed ‘no panic’: DeBoer

“There was no panic, but a lot of teams I’ve coached in the past with that situation tonight, maybe that game goes 4-1, 5-1 and you walk out of here,” said DeBoer.

“I can’t tell you how much I admire the gumption of our group to hang around. We knew Edmonton would come out hard and it was a perfect storm. They scored early (Hyman) and got the crowd into it and we couldn’t get any 0-zone shifts. I don’t think we won a puck battle, they owned the puck,” said DeBoer.

“But we’re an honest group…the second was a chance to reset.”

“It was pretty quiet in here. Came down to races and battles,” said Seguin.

“We just had to show up,” said defenceman Esa Lindell.

Now it’s requisite that the Oilers have to show up for a full 60 in Game 4.

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