For the second time in as many days, Jason Robertson was a difference maker. But this time, the young stud had plenty of company.
After scoring Team USA's lone marker in a 2-1 loss on Saturday against Finland, the 21-year-old netted the first of five goals in a lopsided 5-1 victory over Canada on Sunday. The win was a tremendous response for Team USA, whose record now stands at 1-0-0-1 (W-OTW-OTL-L) in the preliminary round of the 2021 IIHF Men's World Championship in Riga, Latvia.
[Complete coverage: Follow Oettinger, Robertson and Shea's quest for gold at Worlds]
Robertson's teammate with the Stars also came up huge on sudden notice.
Jake Oettinger began the game as a backup to starting goaltender Anthony Stolarz, but when Stolarz went down with an apparent lower-body injury just five minutes in, the 22-year-old Lakeville, Minnesota native answered the call.
Oettinger turned aside 26 of 27 shots, including all nine he faced in the first period. The lone goal for Canada came off the stick of Max Comtois midway through the third period. This marked Oettinger's debut in the 16-nation tournament, having served as Cal Petersen's backup in Saturday's game against Finland. Furthermore, Oettinger's appearance on Sunday was his first game action on the international stage since helping the United States earn bronze at the 2018 World Junior Championship.
"You never know, as a goalie, when your opportunity is going to come," Oettinger said in his postgame press conference. "I feel terrible for Stolie. I hope he's doing okay. You never know when your opportunity is going to come. The guys did such a good job in front of me and made my life really easy. They really helped me get into the game. Once you get into it a little bit, it's just another game. Credit to the guys in front of me and getting that goal support they gave me and the job we did on the PK. Can't say enough good things about how they played in front of me."
Robertson opened the scoring at the 7:42 mark of the first period when he took advantage of a turnover from Team Canada goaltender Darcy Kuemper behind the net. The play started with a persistent forecheck from Conor Garland, who poked the puck off Kuemper's blade and onto the tape of Robertson. In the right place at the right time, the Arcadia, California native quickly shoveled the puck into an open net to give the United States its first lead of the tournament.
Robertson tacked on a primary assist on Trevor Moore's goal in the early stages of the middle frame to give him three points (two goals, one assist) in two games. Moore finished the contest with two goals and was named Team USA's player of the game. Defensemen Adam Clendening (one goal, one assist) and Matt Tennyson (one goal) rounded out the scoring for the United States, while Garland contributed two assists in the win.
The trio of Robertson-Moore-Garland, arguably Team USA's most dangerous line of the tournament thus far, remained intact for Sunday's game and combined for three goals, three assists and six points.
Team USA's schedule resumes Tuesday (May 25) with a game against Kazakhstan in its third of seven preliminary round contests. The opening faceoff is set for 8:15 a.m. CT and can be seen live on NHL Network.
NOTE: Texas Stars defenseman Ryan Shea didn't dress for the game and has yet to make his debut in the tournament.
The 2021 IIHF World Championship is taking place in Riga, Latvia. The 16-nation tournament began May 21 and runs through June 6. For complete coverage, click here.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.
Kyle Shohara is the Digital Manager for DallasStars.com and writes about the Stars/NHL. Follow him on Twitter @kyleshohara.