Oilers’ Henrique, Stars’ Hintz make instrumental returns

Watch as Edmonton Oilers forward Adam Henrique announces his return to the lineup in Game 3 with a deflection goal that sneaks past Dallas Stars goaltender Jake Oettinger during the second period.

EDMONTON — Oilers centre Adam Henrique joined the action Monday. Stars counterpart Roope Hintz did the same. Both had impacts on the scoresheet.

The pair returned to their respective lineups when Edmonton hosted Dallas in Game 3 of the NHL Western Conference final at Rogers Place. 

Henrique scored a goal while Hintz had two assists as the Stars won 5-3 to grab a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. Dallas picked up a 3-1 home victory Saturday, while Edmonton took the opener 3-2 in double overtime.

Henrique suffered a suspected ankle injury in Game 5 of the first round against the Los Angeles Kings before briefly returning for Game 2 against the Vancouver Canucks.

“You never know what a player’s going to bring after a stretch of not playing,” Oilers head coach Kris Knoblauch said Monday after the loss. “Usually it’s very hard for a player to find their game, but I don’t think he had any problems.

“He made a lot of nice plays, obviously with the goal. I thought he was pretty good on the faceoff, and it was nice having him.”

Henrique said it didn’t take too long for him to find his game legs.

“You’re kind of mindful of those sorts of things going into the game — simplify, quick shifts early on, get yourself in the game and then everything else you just block out and go play,” he said.

Acquired from the Anaheim Ducks before the NHL trade deadline, Henrique has two goals and an assist in seven playoff appearances this spring. He combined to score 24 goals and 51 points during the regular season.

Hintz, the Stars’ No. 1 centre, hadn’t dressed since suffering an upper-body injury in Game 4 of the second round against the Colorado Avalanche. 

[brightcove videoID=6353784360112 playerID=JCdte3tMv height=360 width=640]

“You could see the speed really drive our line through the neutral zone,” Dallas forward Jason Robertson, who scored a hat trick Monday, said of his teammate. “He was first on pucks on the forecheck. It was a race, and he won almost all of them, if not all of them.

“It was a great game for him. To come back in, I know it’s not easy coming in, having a week or two off, but he didn’t look like he missed a beat.”

Hintz said he skated almost every day while he was out of the lineup.

“Of course it’s a fast and heavy game, and we didn’t have the best first period, but it was great to see that we came back in the second and started winning battles,” he said.

Dallas head coach Pete DeBoer said there’s a trickle-down effect on teams when top players are unavailable.

“We gutted it out while (Hintz) was out of the lineup,” DeBoer said. “It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t as pretty as it was tonight when he was out, but we still found ways. Guys still found ways to contribute without a key player.

“That’s what I’m most proud of. It was great that he was back tonight, but I’m really proud of how we handled his absence.”

The 27-year-old Hintz has two goals and six assists in 12 playoff games. He recorded 30 goals and 65 points in 80 regular-season contests. 

When submitting content, please abide by our submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.