AP

Robertson’s 2nd straight hat trick lifts Stars over Wild 6-3

Mar 6, 2022, 2:16 AM | Updated: 5:30 pm

Dallas Stars left wing Riley Tufte (27) reacts in celebration with teammates after scoring a goal a...

Dallas Stars left wing Riley Tufte (27) reacts in celebration with teammates after scoring a goal against Minnesota Wild goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Sunday, March 6, 2022, in St. Paul, Minn. (AP Photo/Stacy Bengs)

(AP Photo/Stacy Bengs)

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Jason Robertson had his second hat trick of the weekend and the Dallas Stars beat the Minnesota Wild 6-3 on Sunday.

Robertson is up to 29 goals on the season, seven of which have come in the last three games. He’s the first NHL player to record back-to-back hat tricks since Washington’s Alex Ovechkin in January 2020.

Joe Pavelski and Jamie Benn also scored for Dallas, which has won four in a row and seven of the last nine. Riley Tufte added his first NHL goal, and Jake Oettenger had 32 saves.

For Minnesota, Kirill Kaprizov scored twice and Nico Sturm added a goal. Kaapo Kahkonen gave up four goals on 21 shots before being pulled midway through the second period. He was replaced by Cam Talbot, who stopped all three shots he faced.

The Wild have lost eight of their last 10 games and are tied with Dallas for third place in the Central Division.

“We are fragile group right now,” Wild coach Dean Evason said. “Nobody else in the league feels sorry for us. So we’re not going to feel sorry for ourselves.”

Meanwhile, the Stars are two games into a stretch that will see them play seven of eight on the road. But they’ve rebounded from early road struggles to put themselves in playoff position.

“We had a tough time scoring on the road. Now the puck is going in for us,” Dallas coach Rick Bowness said. “Now we’re in the hunt for one of those top three spots in the division, and that’s what we’re shooting for.”

Trailing 4-1, the Wild pulled Talbot for an extra skater with just under nine minutes to play, and Kaprizov cut the deficit to 4-2 on a wrist shot with 3:41 remaining. Kaprizov scored his second of the game with 1:57 to play.

But Benn finally put it away for the Stars when he sent the puck the length of the ice into the empty net with about a minute left and Robertson got his third goal with another empty-netter with 32 seconds to play.

“He’s a natural goal-scorer,” Bowness said of Robertson. “He knows where to put the puck, he knows when to shoot, where to put it, and that’s an instinct you can’t teach. And he’s got it.”

Minnesota outshot the Stars 6-0 in the game’s first four minutes. Sturm scored his ninth goal of the season midway through the period.

The Stars tied it with a disputed power-play goal in the final seconds of the first, when Tyler Seguin crashed the net for a shot that Kahkonen stopped. The puck bounced out to Pavelski, whose backhanded swipe banked off Minnesota’s Dmitry Kulikov and into the net.

Evason challenged the call, claiming goaltender interference. But officials ruled that Seguin was knocked into the crease by the Wild’s Frederick Gaudreau and the goal was allowed to stand.

The Stars opened the second period on another power play and capitalized, as Robertson jammed home a rebound of a shot by John Klingberg, capping a stretch that left Evason frustrated.

“I don’t think we can play a better first period. They were ready. We played hard, we played right. One thing happened, and it snowballs a little bit,” Evason said. “And we make that (challenge) … hindsight maybe we shouldn’t have called it, but we take a shot and they obviously score again, and it’s hard for us to rebound.”

Less than two minutes after Robertson’s goal, Kahkonen coughed up another rebound of a Klingberg shot, and Tufte fought off a defender to knock it into the net.

“I played in the state tournament here, won a national championship here, and … my first NHL goal, so those are all great,” the Twin Cities native who played at Minnesota-Duluth said. “This building’s been good to me.”

Dallas took a 4-1 lead midway through the second when Robertson fired a wrist shot from the top of the left faceoff circle that slipped under Kahkonen’s armpit and trickled into the net.

“There’s some things I want to do better on those goals in the second for sure, and I have to be better on those.” Kahkonen said. “You just have to keep moving forward and focus on what’s coming next.”

UP NEXT

Stars: At Nashville on Tuesday.

Wild: Host Rangers on Tuesday.

___

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Robertson’s 2nd straight hat trick lifts Stars over Wild 6-3