Jamie Benn of the Dallas Stars was suspended two games by the NHL Department of Player Safety on Wednesday.
The incident occurred at 1:53 of the first period in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final at American Airlines Center in Dallas on Tuesday. The Stars forward cross-checked Vegas Golden Knights forward Mark Stone in the neck area after he took him down in front of the penalty box. Golden Knights defenseman Alex Pietrangelo already had possession of the puck in Vegas’ zone when Benn cross-checked Stone as he was laying on the ice.
Benn was assessed a five-minute major penalty for cross-checking and a game misconduct. The penalties were upheld upon an official’s video review.
“It’s just an unfortunate play,” Benn said. “I think I just need to be more responsible with my body and my stick and put my team in a tough situation. It was pretty unfortunate.”
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Benn said he hasn’t reached out to Stone.
“You usually don’t talk to other players in a playoff series on other teams,” Benn said. “But I saw he was OK, so that’s great.”
The Stars lost 4-0 and trail the best-of-7 series 3-0 with Game 4 on Thursday (8 p.m. ET; ESPN, ESPN+, CBC, SN, TVAS). Game 5, if neccessary, would be Saturday in Las Vegas.
“Let’s put it this way: He made a mistake, he feels really badly about it,” Dallas coach Peter DeBoer said. “I don’t think anyone in the building feels worse than he does about it. I’m not going to pile on him. He’s been a leader here through his entire career and leads by example every day on and off the ice. He made a mistake.
“Fortunately, Mark Stone is OK, and we’ve got to live with the consequences, and the consequences was a big hole. But I’m not going to stand here and pile on tonight. I don’t think it does anybody any good.”
Stone said the resulting power play gave Vegas the momentum it needed.
“I’m not going to sit here and say I loved it but we got the five-man power play, the refs handled it the way it should’ve been handled,” Stone said. “We got a big goal from it and got a ton of momentum for our team. Yeah, I didn’t love what transpired, but it got handled the right way. We stuck together as a team. Now the focus is Game 4.
When asked if we would have done anything differently, Benn tried to explain what happened.
“Obviously I didn’t want to take a five-minute penalty but the game happens fast, emotions are high,” Benn said, “and obviously would’ve liked to not fall on him and I guess use my stick as a landing point.”
Benn’s teammates stuck up for him after Game 3.
“You guys ask if I’m disappointed in a guy who I have so much respect for and battles so hard? I’ve got no problems with [Benn],” Stars forward Joe Pavelski said. “You know what? We needed to be better from there, and we weren’t.
“Emotions get the best of all of us at some point and we move on. He wears it as much as anybody. He’s a tremendous leader, we never question that. Now just as a group we’ve got to rally together.”
Benn is averaging 16:34 of ice time in the playoffs. At age 33, his 78 points (33 goals, 45 assists) in 82 regular-season games were his best totals since he had 79 points (36 goals, 43 assists) in 2017-18.
“Jamie’s one of the, if not the best captain, in this league,” Stars forward Tyler Seguin said. “Collectively, we lost as a group tonight.
NHL.com staff writer Tracey Myers contributed to this report