The Stars took the bumpy route but departed Minnesota with an impressive 6-3 victory and two points in the playoff race.
Oettinger and Robertson Terrific Again
Jake Oettinger started his first NHL game back in his home state on Sunday, taking full advantage of the opportunity. The 23-year-old made 32 saves on 35 shots, many that looked near impossible as players bounced around the top of his crease. The victory improved his record to 19-6-1 on the season.
“Whenever you can get some rubber on your early, I was pretty nervous before the game so it was nice to settle in,” said Oettinger. “From there, it was just another game and the guys just gave me a bunch of goal support which obviously makes my job easier.”
Jason Robertson came into the game directly off of his first NHL hat trick against the Winnipeg Jets on Friday night. On Sunday, he had a repeat performance, scoring three more goals, including the game-winner for the second straight game. This marked the second time in franchise history and the first time in Dallas Stars history that a player recorded a hat trick in back-to-back games.
“I like to say every game I have a few scoring chances,” Robertson said. “My linemates worked really hard today to get those opportunities and when I start feeling good, you just start to shoot the puck more with more confidence and it’ll go in.”
Robertson gave the Stars their first lead on a rebound on the power play early in the second period. Then, he snuck a wrister under the arm of Kaapo Kahkonen before finishing his hat trick with an empty-net goal. The final goal felt the toughest to get as Dallas missed the open net four times before finally converting twice in a row.
With three points on the night. Robertson also picked up the 100th point of his career, coming in his 101st NHL game. The second-year forward now has 54 points (29G, 25A) in 47 games this season
Tufte Picks Up His First — In His Home State
Along with Oettinger, Riley Tufte played his first game back in his home state on Sunday. The Coon Rapids, Minnesota native, and former Minnesota-Duluth Bulldog was a healthy scratch back in November but took full advantage of his opportunity this time. In 7:01 of ice time, he picked up a hit, a penalty, and his first carer NHL goal as he powered home a rebound in the second period to extend the Dallas lead.
“Good for him and especially at home,” Bowness said. “I am very happy for him. He has played well. He has played the last three games, he has played well for us.”
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Tufte still has plenty of development to go but has played in four of the Stars last five games overall.
Dallas Finds Themselves In New Territory
With the victory, Dallas pulled even with Minnesota for the third seed in the Central Divison. Although the Wild maintains the spot due to one fewer game played, this is new and welcomed territory for Dallas on their push for a playoff spot. The Stars have gone 8-2-1 in their last 11 games.
“We played really well, simple as that,” Bowness said. “You take away those last eight minutes when they were pressing us pretty good, our 5 on 5 we were pretty good and our specialty teams were really good. And we got the timely saves and the timely goals.”
The Stars wrap up this three-game road trip (2-0-0) with a rematch against the Predators in Nashville on Tuesday night. Nashville outlasted Dallas in a shootout on Feb 24 and the Stars have an overall record of 1-1-1 against their rivals in 2021-22. Nashville currently trails Dallas by one point for the top wild card spot…sound familiar?
He Said It
“It’s huge,” Oettinger said when asked about the importance of winning early games in a road-heavy March. “Obviously on the road, it can be tough and a lot of stuff can happen quick so for us to get W’s early, just sets us up. You know it’s going to be a tough month of March, pretty much the whole time on the road. So we’ve got to take advantage of our home games and when we are on the road, we gotta just battle and find ways to get points.”
Sam’s Three Stars
- Third Star: Riley Tufte, DAL (First career NHL goal)
- Second Star: Jason Robertson, DAL (3 goals, back-to-back hat tricks, game-winning goal
- First Star: Jake Oettinger, DAL (32 saves on 35 shots)