DALLAS (AP) — Rookie Jason Robertson scored twice for his first multigoal NHL game, and Jamie Benn scored his third power-play goal in the last six games Saturday to lead the Dallas Stars to a 4-1 victory over the Florida Panthers.
Joel L’Esperance joined Robertson scoring in the first two minutes and Anton Khudobin made 20 saves for the Stars, who won for the fourth time in their last six games as the reigning Western Conference champions went into play seven points out of a playoff spot in the Central Division.
“We needed a team effort,” Dallas coach Rick Bowness said. “We needed everyone to contribute.”
“We’ve got to find a way to keep it going here,” said Benn, the Stars’ captain.
Roope Hintz and Joe Pavelski had two assists each.
Robertson’s 11 goals tie him for second place among NHL rookies, and seven have come in the last 10 games.
Aleksander Barkov scored a power-play goal with 1.5 seconds to play in the second period for the Panthers, who lost their third straight game to match a season high. Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 16 shots in a rare loss to the Stars — he has a career record of 15-2-1 against Dallas.
“It was one of those games, garbage-can game for me, first one of the year,” Panthers coach Joel Quenneville said.
Robertson scored on a top-shelf wrist shot one minute in. Forty-nine seconds later, L’Esperance tipped a centering pass from Justin Dowling on the rush.
Benn settled a Pavelski pass from behind the net off his right skate in front of the net to give the Stars a 3-0 lead at 9:03 of the first period.
Barkov stuffed in his own rebound amid a scrum around the Dallas crease for his 17th goal of the season, tying him for the team lead. Robertson answered 1:21 into the third period with an unassisted goal in transition through traffic that sailed past Bobrovsky’s glove.
EXCELLENT FIRST IMPRESSION
Robertson has gone from spending five of the first seven Dallas games this season in the minors to working on the Stars’ top line with Hintz and Pavelski in recent weeks. He’s become one of the team’s top producers and has put himself in the conversation for the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie.
“All I wanted to be is an impact player on this team,” Robertson said. “That’s something I’ve worked to do these last couple months, and I want to continue doing along the stretch.”
“He’s done a great job, taking advantage of the opportunity,” Benn said. “Fits in well with Roope and ‘Pav’ and definitely great to see.”
MORE HELP ON THE WAY FOR PANTHERS
After acquiring two players from Chicago on Thursday, the Panthers traded for Buffalo defenseman Brandon Montour on Saturday in exchange for their 2021 third-round draft choice. The seventh-year player had five goals and nine assists in 38 games this season with the Sabres.
“Brings some puck-moving ability on the back end,” Quenneville said. “He’s mobile. Could get some power-play time.”
“He’s always wanted to be up on the play and help the forwards to create some more scoring chances,” defenseman Radko Gudas said. “I’m looking forward to meeting him.”
Dallas is 13-1-2 when leading after two, its only loss on Feb. 25 at Florida when a 2-0 lead midway through the third period ended in a 3-2 loss. … Khudobin has earned points in each of his last five games (3-0-2). … Hintz, in and out of the lineup much of this season with a lower-body injury, has 30 points in 28 games. … Barkov’s goal snapped an 0-for-13 Florida power-play drought in five games and likewise was the first against Dallas’ penalty kill in six games after 13 straight kills. … Dowling’s assist was his first point since Feb. 25.
Panthers: Finish the two-game series at Dallas on Tuesday night.
Stars: Complete a back-to-back on Sunday night at Nashville. They’re 1-3-3 in back-to-back finales.
More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports