The Dallas Stars, who are set to host the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night, are relying more and more on a guy they call "Robo".
He's 21-year-old winger Jason Robertson, one of the favorites for this year's Calder Trophy, given to the NHL's top rookie.
Robertson scored two goals on Saturday as the host Stars beat the Panthers, 4-1.
"We needed it," Stars coach Rick Bowness said after that win.
The Panthers have been idle since that game, but the Stars lost to the Nashville Predators, 3-2, in a shootout on Sunday.
Dallas, which made it to the Stanley Cup Finals last year, is not currently in playoff position. But Robertson has been a bright spot.
The California native was the Stars' second-round pick in 2017. His mother was born in Manila, making him the first Filipino-American to play in the NHL. (His father is of Scottish descent.)
Robertson made his NHL debut on Feb. 13, 2020 against Toronto, earning one assist. But his real work started this past winter, when he lost 21 pounds and got into superior shape.
He went scoreless in this year's first three games, playing on bottom-six lines. But he got his first NHL goal on Feb. 7 against Chicago, and moved up to Dallas' top line last month, joining Roope Hintz and Joe Pavelski.
For the season, those are Dallas' top three scorers and their only double-figure goal scorers. Pavelski leads the team in goals (15) and assists (22). Hintz has 13 goals and 19 assists, and Robertson has 11 goals and 16 assists, including three goals in his past three games.
It will be interesting to see if the Panthers go back to goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, who was beaten by the Stars on Saturday but still has a 15-2-1 career record against Dallas.
Florida has been among the NHL leaders in points this season and is still in playoff position, despite its current three-game losing streak.
Panthers captain/center Aleksander Barkov, who scored against the Stars on Saturday, said this stretch of the season already feels like the playoffs.
"Teams are playing really well against us," said Barkov, who has scored three goals against Dallas this year. "Give credit to them.
"But we haven't been playing exactly how we want to play. It's up to us to find a way to win these games."
Dallas jumped ahead of the Panthers by scoring twice in the first 1:49. That's the fastest two goals ever scored by the Stars since the franchise moved to Dallas in 1993.
"That was definitely not starting on time," Panthers coach Joel Quenneville said. "We can't blame it on anything other than not being ready. It was a huge deficit to overcome."
Quenneville called it a "garbage-can game" for his Panthers, saying it was the first one of the year for them.
Barkov, who leads the Panthers in points with 43, is also tied for the team lead in goals (17) with Carter Verhaeghe. Jonathan Huberdeau leads the team in assists (28) and ranks second in points (42).
They will try to beat likely Stars starting goalie Anton Khudobin, who beat the Panthers on Saturday. Khudobin is 2-1-1 with a 1.73 goals-against average and a brilliant .951 save percentage in four starts against Florida this season.
--Field Level Media