DALLAS — The Dallas Stars will have to start their comeback attempt in the Western Conference Final without their captain.
Jamie Benn was suspended two games by the NHL Department of Player Safety on Wednesday, meaning he will be out for Thursday’s Game 4 with the Stars down 3-0 to the Golden Knights. He also would miss a Game 5 on Saturday at T-Mobile Arena.
Benn received a major penalty and game misconduct for cross-checking Knights captain Mark Stone 1:53 into the Stars’ 4-0 Game 3 loss Tuesday. The two got tangled up, and Benn cross-checked Stone in the head and neck area while the latter was laying on the ice in the neutral zone.
Jamie Benn has been given a 5 minute major for his cross check on Mark Stone. pic.twitter.com/Ck1uCnnCgJ
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) May 24, 2023
“It is important to note that Benn is in control of this play at all times and makes the decision to deliver a forceful cross-check to a prone player,” the NHL said of its ruling. “This is simply an unnecessarily dangerous decision by Benn, and it is delivered with sufficient intent to merit supplemental discipline.”
Benn said Wednesday before his hearing it was an “unfortunate play” and he needed to be more responsible with his body and stick. He will miss the Stars’ 2023 regular-season opener if the Knights win Thursday.
Stone said he was surprised by the play, given it came on his first shift of the game. He credited the officials for making the right call. The Knights scored on the subsequent power play to take a 2-0 lead.
“Not going to sit here and say I loved it,” Stone said. “We got a big goal from it, got a ton of momentum for our team. I didn’t love what transpired, but it got handled the right way.”
This isn’t the first time Benn has cross-checked a player in the neck, having done so to Detroit captain Dylan Larkin in April 2021. Larkin didn’t play in the Red Wings’ eight remaining regular-season games.
For no reason in particular, here’s Jamie Benn cross-checking Dylan Larkin’s neck/spine in 2021, ending his season and receiving no discipline. ☕ pic.twitter.com/slJG7WfrOA
— Winged Wheel Podcast (@WingedWheelPod) May 24, 2023
The Stars followed Benn’s lead Tuesday and didn’t play disciplined hockey the rest of the night. They gave the Knights six power plays. Center Max Domi was fined $5,000 Wednesday — the maximum am0unt under the NHL’s collective bargaining agreement — for slashing Stone with 1:51 remaining.
“We knew they were going to try to change the momentum a little bit,” center Nicolas Roy said. “It’s part of the series. We just wanted to play our game. We did a good job of that. Don’t be involved in that stuff.”
Stars issue apology
The Stars issued an apology to the Knights and the NHL for the actions of members of the American Airlines Center crowd during Game 3.
Fans hurled objects on the ice with 21.6 seconds left in the second period after Domi received three penalties on one play. Officials halted the game and sent both teams to their locker rooms early. Knights goaltender Adin Hill was hit with popcorn when he came out for the third period.
“Their actions were unacceptable and put the safety of the players and fans at risk,” Stars president and CEO Brad Alberts said in a statement. “We take pride in providing the best experience for everyone who enters our arena. The actions of these individuals certainly do not reflect our great city, organization and loyal fan base.”
Knights coach Bruce Cassidy said left wing Brett Howden was getting checked Wednesday after leaving Game 3 with a lower-body injury.
Cassidy didn’t say whether Howden will play Thursday. He has six points in 14 games this postseason and scored the overtime winner in Game 1 against Dallas.
Also, Stars coach Pete DeBoer said right wing Evgenii Dadonov is doubtful for Game 4 with a lower-body injury. Dadonov, who played for the Knights last season, was hurt in the first period of Game 3. He has 10 points in 16 playoff games.