Dallas Stars captain to miss must-win playoff game as team faces elimination

The Dallas Stars are facing elimination from the NHL playoffs on Thursday — and down 3-0 in the Western Conference finals series to the Vegas Golden Knights, their prospects of a comeback appear dim.

The Stars‘ comeback chances took an even bigger hit Wednesday, when the NHL suspended Dallas captain Jamie Benn after an illegal cross-check delivered to the neck of Vegas captain Mark Stone.

What Benn said in his defense

Benn had the chance to speak to the media Wednesday to address the incident and did not offer an apology. He claimed tensions were high given the importance of the game, which Dallas eventually lost 4-0 without him, and said he used his stick as a “landing point” to break his fall.

Benn, who led the NHL in points in 2014/15, was suspended for two games following the hit on Stone, meaning the earliest he could return for the Stars would be Game 6 — assuming the team wins the next two games without him.

Benn’s history of dirty play

This is not the first time Benn has been singled out for misconduct, and the incident in Game 3 Tuesday will only enhance his reputation as a “dirty” player.

During a game against the Detroit Red Wings in 2021, Benn took his stick and jammed it into the neck of Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin. The incident landed Larkin in the hospital and ended his season.

The NHL took no action at the time, but the league’s patience with Benn’s behavior seems to have run out, if this suspension at a critical time in the postseason is any indication.