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Stars roar back to win Game 3 over Oilers

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Jason Robertson's hat-trick goal midway through the third period was the winner, but the difference in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final came 20 minutes earlier.

That's when the Dallas Stars wrestled control of Monday night's showdown with the host Edmonton Oilers, scoring three times in a three-and-a-half-minute span to take a 3-2 lead, surprising and quieting a lively Rogers Place crowd.

And while Adam Henrique tied the game near the end of the second period to set up a tight-checking third, the Stars made good on a lucky bounce for Robertson's decisive goal, with defenceman Miro Heiskanen adding an empty-netter in the 5-3 Dallas win and a 2-1 playoff series lead.

Robertson's game-winning tally came following a broken play, literally, when defenceman Esa Lindell's stick broke on his point shot, still sending the puck off a pair of Oilers to winger Tyler Seguin, whose backhand pass found the goal-scorer for a bank shot in tight that bounced into the net off Oilers goalie Stuart Skinner.

"In the playoffs, throughout games, there are momentum swings, and when you don't have it, you've got to wrestle it back," Oilers star Connor McDavid told reporters following the game, calling the second-period swoon "as bad as it's been" for his team in this year's playoffs.

"We didn't do that for the better part of that second period ... You have to feel their urgency, their desperation, their level go up, and we just didn't match it."

Oilers head coach Kris Knoblauch called the middle frame's collapse a "complete reversal of the first period," in which the Oilers had taken a 2-0 lead and had outshot the Stars 10-3 through 20 minutes. Dallas answered with 16 shots to Edmonton's seven in the second, scoring three goals to the home side's one.

"They were ready to come out hard and make a good push," Knoblauch said after the game.

"We were (hoping) things would just continue sailing the way it had in the first period (and it) caught us by surprise ... I think we had the start that we needed but took our foot off the pedal."

Stars won 'races and battles' to grab momentum

Stars head coach Pete DeBoer said his team approached the second period as an opportunity to reset "and get to our game."

"We needed a couple of good shifts to start the second period to get the ball rolling," he told media of the "gutsy effort" to "win some races and battles" for the puck to "tilt the ice with some of the other things we're trying to do."

"The funny thing was that there was no panic ... We'd been in that spot before. In a lot of teams I've coached in the past, in that situation tonight, that game maybe goes to 4-1 or 5-1 and you walk out of here, but I can't tell you how impressed I am with the gumption of our group to hang around.

"You've got to win all kinds of different ways on this playoff trail."

Wyatt Johnston also scored in the second period for the Stars following a pair by Robertson. Both came off assists from top-line centre Roope Hintz, who returned to action after missing four games with an upper-body injury.

Zach Hyman, with his league-leading 13th playoff goal, and McDavid with his fourth of the post-season also scored for the Oilers. McDavid added an assist on Hyman's goal to lift him into a tie with teammate Leon Draisaitl for the NHL playoff scoring league with 25 points.

Robertson's effort Monday night broke a personal 10-game goalless drought, while veteran forwards Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn each had a pair of assists for Dallas.

Oettinger stopped 27 Oilers shots while Skinner turned aside 17 by the Stars.

McLeod sits with Henrique return

Henrique replaced forward Ryan McLeod in the Oilers lineup for Game 3.

"Absolutely, it's a reset," Oilers head coach Kris Knoblauch said of pulling McLeod from the lineup.

"(He) is going to be a part of his team whether he comes in the next game or following ... we'll see him sooner than later. There's a lot to like about his game, a lot of it is on the penalty kill. He's been contributing a lot there. His quickness, his reads, five-on-five, he's not playing quite like he had been, especially in the middle part of the season."

Henrique started Game 3 taking McLeod's centre-ice slot on the Oilers' third line between wingers Warren Foegele and Derek Ryan.

Stars road warriors

DeBoer credits his veterans for the Stars' near-perfect playoff performance on the road this season.

Heading into Game 3 against the Oilers, the Stars had lost just once -- to the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 6 of that first-round series.

Now they have a record of 6-1 heading into Wednesday's Game 4 (6:30 p.m. MT) back at Edmonton's Rogers Place.

"I think our game translates well on the road," DeBoer said before Monday's game.

"I think we've got a veteran team that's not intimidated by visiting rinks or the atomosphere or the situation. I think there's a calmness from our leadership group that bleeds into the rest of the group." 

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