Dallas Stars in 0-3 hole vs. Vegas, Benn awaits potential suspension after hit on Knights captain

By STEPHEN HAWKINS

Associated Press

Published: 05-24-2023 4:09 PM

DALLAS — Stars captain Jamie Benn said Wednesday he wishes he hadn’t used his stick “as a landing point” during an ugly hit on Vegas captain Mark Stone in a Game 3 loss that left Dallas on the brink of being swept out of the Western Conference Final.

Benn faced a hearing later in the day with NHL safety officials and a potential suspension.

“Just heat of the moment. ... I need to be more responsible with my body and my stick,” Benn said. “My first shift of a game on home ice when you’re pretty jacked up and down 1-0, so you want to try to get your team going. Emotions are high and, you know, it was just an unfortunate play.”

Vegas scored on the ensuing power play, doubling their lead, before going on to a 4-0 win Tuesday night to take a 3-0 series lead. Game 4 in Thursday night, when the Knights can advance to the Stanley Cup Final for the second time in the franchise’s six seasons.

“I didn’t love what transpired, but it got handled the right way and we stayed focused as a team,” Stone said.

The Stars had hoped for a strong Game 3 but instead saw the Golden Knights score three times in the first 7½ minutes to chase inconsistent goalie Jake Oettinger amid a series of ugly penalties and even fans pelting the ice with debris.

Neither captain spoke after Game 3, but both talked with reporters Wednesday.

Stone said he was “a little bit surprised” at that kind of play happening when it did.

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“It was early in the game, my first shift of the game,” he said. “I didn’t expect to get stomped on like that.”

Benn got a game misconduct for his cross-check less than two minutes into the game after the captains collided near the blue line. After Stone fell to the ice, Benn lunged forward with both hands on his stick and made contact near Stone’s neck as he was sliding over the center line.

Asked what he could have done differently in that moment, Benn said he obviously didn’t want to take a five-minute major penalty.

“But the game happens fast, emotions are high, and obviously would have liked to not fall on him and, I guess, use my stick as a landing point,” Benn said.

Dallas coach Pete DeBoer said the Stars were preparing for the possibility that Benn wouldn’t be available for a game that they must win to extend their season.

“The bottom line is that there’s consequences for actions and he’s paying the consequences for that,” DeBoer said. “From our group’s perspective, I think everybody wants to see Jamie Benn play again. I think we all want to make sure his season doesn’t end on a note like that.”

The Stars could also be without forward Evgenii Dadonov. He left with a lower-body injury in the first period, and DeBoer said he was doubtful for Game 4.

Max Domi, who got a 10-minute misconduct at the end of the second period, was fined $5,000 by the NHL for slashing Stone in the closing minutes of the game; no penalty was called.

The earlier misconduct came when Domi, after cross-checking Nicolas Hague, started throwing punches with 21 seconds left in the second.

Fans reacted to penalties being called on Domi by throwing water bottles, food and other items on the ice. With extended time needed to clean up the playing surface, officials sent both teams to their locker rooms early and finished those final seconds after the intermission before playing the third period.

Dallas Stars president Brad Alberts issued an apology to the Golden Knights and the Stars for “the actions of a few of our spectators at last night’s game. Their actions were unacceptable and put the safety of the players and fans at risk.

“We take pride in providing the best experience for everyone who enters our arena,” he said. “The actions of these individuals certainly do not reflect our great city, organization and loyal fan base.”

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