DALLAS — Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn said it was a “heat of the moment” play that led to the match penalty in Game 3, earning him both a first-period ejection and a hearing Wednesday with the NHL Department of Player Safety.
Benn said Wednesday that he needed to be more responsible with his body and stick.
Just 1 minute, 53 seconds into Tuesday night’s 4-0 loss to the Golden Knights in Dallas, Benn was given a game misconduct for cross-checking Vegas captain Mark Stone around the jaw while Stone was flat on the ice.
Vegas moved within one victory of a Western Conference finals sweep of the Stars.
“That was my first shift of a game on home ice, when you’re pretty jacked up and you’re down 1-0. So you want to try and get your game going. Emotions are high and it’s just an unfortunate play,” Benn said. “I put my team in a tough situation, so it’s pretty unfortunate.”
“It didn’t feel good,” Stone told reporters Wednesday. “I think I was more a little bit surprised. It was early in the game, it was my first shift of the game. I didn’t expect to get stomped on like that. But I could hear the ref making sure I was all right and I felt okay to get up. The refs made sure the right call was made.”
When asked if he would change anything on the play, Benn said he believed that he fell on Stone.
“Obviously, didn’t want to take a five-minute penalty, but when the game happens fast, emotions are high. Obviously I would’ve liked to not fall on him and I guess use my stick as the landing point,” he said.
Would he use the falling defense in his department of player safety hearing?
“We’ll probably go through the whole play starting from our end and I’ll try and tell them how I was feeling and what was going on in that situation,” he said.
George Parros, director of the department of player safety, was in attendance at Game 3.
With his team already trailing 1-0 in the first two minutes of the game, Benn knocked Stone to the ice with a check. With Stone on his back, Benn drove his stick down into Stone’s jaw area while falling to the ice himself.
The on-ice officials gave Benn a match penalty for cross-checking. They reviewed the play on a tablet near the penalty boxes and determined it was a correct call.
Per NHL Rule 59, a cross-checking match penalty can be assessed if the referee believes a player “attempted to or deliberately injured his opponent by cross-checking.”
Vegas would score on the ensuing power play and again at 7:10 of the first period, chasing Dallas goalie Jake Oettinger after he faced just five shots.
“I’m not sure you could script it much worse,” said Dallas coach Peter DeBoer. DeBoer and Benn’s Dallas teammates offered support for their captain after the game. Forward Tyler Seguin, the second-longest-tenured player in Dallas behind Benn, said there was “zero” frustration with the captain in the Stars’ locker room.
“Jamie’s one of the, if not the, best captain in this league and top leader. Collectively, we lost as a group,” he said.
DeBoer said that Benn “made a mistake” on the play.
“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 for his entire career and leads by example every day on and off the ice. He made a mistake. Fortunately, Mark Stone’s OK,” he said.
Benn also said he was relieved that Stone wasn’t injured on the play. He also agreed with DeBoer about being emotionally devastated by his own actions.
“Your team’s down in 0-2 in a series and 1-0 in the game and you put them on a five-minute penalty kill. So you probably imagine how that feels,” he said.
Game 4 is Thursday night in Dallas.