One of the most entertaining things you can do as a Stars fan is watch Jason Robertson practice.

It’s easy to do in Frisco, as the 24-year-old winger is a rink rat who thoroughly enjoys the process. He’s typically one of the first skaters on the ice, and he’s always one of the last skaters off. He loves to score goals and he loves to torment his buddies trying to stop him.

That makes it all the more interesting when you consider that Monday’s hat trick in Game 3 was years in the making. With his team down 0-2 in the first period, Robertson went back to the lessons he has taught himself over the years and found a way to do what he does best – score goals.

“In my gut, I thought he was maybe going to get four,” said linemate Tyler Seguin of the three-goal performance in a 5-3 win over the Edmonton Oilers. “He was just having one of those nights.”

Seguin pointed to the game-winning goal as a testament to what Robertson can do. The lanky winger walked up to the left post, made a little deke, got Edmonton goalie Stuart Skinner to think about his five-hole, and then stuffed the puck between the post and Skinner’s skate. The shot looked fluky, but Seguin said it was definitely by plan.

“His third goal was the most `Robo’ goal I think you’re going to score,” Seguin said. “They might talk about the goalie, but that’s just a Robo shot right there.”

Robertson works on that kind of shot for hours every day. He wants to bounce pucks off of goalies, he wants to find openings that otherwise don’t appear. He is fantastic at using every pitch he has on opposing netminders. That could be working hard on his one-timer for the past three seasons, and then scoring on a one-timer against Skinner in the first period. Or maybe knowing how to track pucks and release shots quickly, as he did on his second goal, which was a perfectly skilled backhander off a mad scramble in front.

But it was the game-winner that had his style written all over it. Robertson is continuously pushing Stars goalies Scott Wedgewood and Jake Oettinger in practice, and the competition gets heated, with jabbing discussions carrying on into the dressing room. There is nothing better for Robertson when he feels he has outsmarted his opponent. He added that goalie coach Jeff Reese also gets into the conversations and talks to him about what a goalie is thinking.

“I’ve learned a lot from my goalie coach, from Wedgy, Jakey, in practice,” Robertson said. “You’ve got to find ways to score goals. It’s hard, goalies are too good in this league, so you try to find something that might work.”

Robertson has done that throughout his career. He broke through with 41 goals in 2021-22 and then posted the second-best scoring season in franchise history with 109 points (46 goals, 63 assists) in 82 games last season. His numbers were down slightly this year at 80 points (29 goals, 51 assists) in 82 games, but he also improved his all-around game and is leading the Stars in playoff scoring at 16 points (6 goals, 10 assists) in 16 games.

If you look back at his career, he has consistently been a point-a-game scorer in every situation. For his regular-season career, he has 314 points (133 goals, 181 assists) in 292 games. In the playoffs, he has 38 points (14 goals, 24 assists) in 42 games. That’s why coach Pete DeBoer said he wasn’t worried about Robertson when he was in the midst of a 10-game goal drought.

“I know he hasn’t scored in 10 games, but he’s a point-a-game player in the NHL playoffs,” DeBoer said before Game 3. “You’re still contributing. I think any coach in the League would take a point-a-game guy at this time of year, especially with the trail of teams we’ve had to go through.”

Asked if there was anything they needed to do to get Robertson going, DeBoer smiled, “He’s going. He doesn’t need to get going.”

That said, there was clearly a light that went on when the puck started going in on Monday. Like oxygen, goals bring energy to goal-scorers.

“It’s great, especially going through a tough stretch, you get that first one and you usually know there’s more coming,” Seguin said. “It’s even better when you top it off with a hat trick in the Western Conference Final.”

Robertson said the spirit he gained from the first two goals allowed him to get into his bag of tricks for the game-winner. After all, it was in the third period of a 3-3 game, and his team has been preaching great defense against an explosive Edmonton team. He has bought in fully, but he said he also knows that the Stars need goals.

“I will say having those couple of goals before probably gave me the confidence to try it and see what might happen,” Robertson said. “When you have that confidence, it just happens.”

Well sure…confidence built from hours and hours of creative practice.

“He’s just so smart and he’s really good at finding little holes,” teammate Wyatt Johnston said. “He has that kind of patience. I think there he let the goalie make a move and once he did that, finds that hole.”

Even when the opening is pretty darn small.

“Goal scorers like him, you need one to drop, and all of a sudden it looks like a soccer net,” DeBoer said.

Or maybe just a practice net.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.

Mike Heika is a Senior Staff Writer for DallasStars.com and has covered the Stars since 1994. Follow him on Twitter @MikeHeika.

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