Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn won the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL’s top scorer Saturday night and he did it in impressive fashion and with dramatic flair. Benn registered three goals and one assist to finish with 87 points, one ahead of John Tavares of the New York Islanders.
His final point – the one that won him the scoring race – came on an assist with 8.5 seconds remaining in the Stars’ 4-1 victory over Nashville before a sellout crowd of 18,532 at American Airlines Center.
With time winding down, Benn was tied with Tavares at 86 points but needed one more point to win the title because the Islanders captain owned the tiebreaker. Benn knocked a Nashville clearing attempt to Trevor Daley, who then set up a close range goal by Cody Eakin.
“I was still trying to get the point there and if it happened, it happened,” Benn said. “Trev made a great play to Eaks and found a way to get it in the net. Obviously, I’ve got to thank my teammates for what happened.”
With Benn getting the secondary assist, the building erupted and Benn was mobbed by his teammates.
“What a way to finish, to see a guy win a scoring title,” Daley said. “It’s a special thing to beat Tavares and Sidney Crosby. I think those are the two best players in the game.”
Benn, who came into the game one point behind both Tavares and Crosby, finished the season with 35 goals and 52 assists. He caught fire over the second half of the season, registering 47 points (22 goals, 25 assists) in 36 games after the All-Star break. He tallied 16 points (eight goals, eight assists) in the final seven games of the season.
“His second half of the year was a pretty special second half. To dig in when Tyler (Seguin) got hurt, he really found his game from that point on,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “What he did was special. That doesn't happen very often. To end up winning the league scoring, that's an incredible accomplishment. As a coach, you're proud to see one of your players accomplish that.”
Benn scored 7:35 into the game, taking a pass from Eakin and scoring off the rush to put the Stars up 1-0. After Nashville tied the game on a Filip Forsberg goal at the 11:33 mark, Benn scored on the power play exactly two minutes later, redirecting a John Klingberg pass past Predators goaltender Carter Hutton to put the Stars ahead 2-1. That pushed him to 85 points, one ahead of Tavares. But the Islanders captain picked up one goal and one assist in the third period of his game to take the lead at 86 points. Benn entered the third period needing two points to pass Tavares, who owned that goals tiebreaker.
“Every teammate was cheering him on from the bench,” Ruff said. “There was a couple guys trying to talk me into pulling the goalie. I wasn't going to be quite that radical. I know I pull him at some odd times, but first and foremost we're going to win a game."
Benn scored an empty-net goal from long range with 2:05 remaining put the Stars ahead 3-1 and to tie Tavares at 86 points. That set the stage for the assist on the Eakin goal that pushed him to 87 points and the NHL scoring title.
“It was pretty special to see your teammates work so hard for you,” Benn said.
Jhonas Enroth stopped 24 of 25 shots for the Stars, who finished the season with four straight wins, nine in their final 12 games and 14 in their final 19 games. The Stars finished the season 41-31-10 for 92 points. That is one more point than last season, when they made the playoffs. But this season they finished seven points out of a playoff spot.
“It’s a tough one. The No. 1 goal here is to make the playoffs and just give yourself a chance to win a Stanley Cup. We didn’t do that this year, and it’s disappointing,” Benn said. “It’s going to be a long summer, a lot of time to think. But at the same time, we’ve got to get back to work pretty soon here because it is so hard just to get into the NHL Playoffs. We got a lot of hard work to do.”
*Jamie Benn is the first player in Dallas Stars/Minnesota North Stars franchise history to win the Art Ross Trophy.
*Jhonas Enroth won his final four starts of the season, stopping 99 of 104 shots.
*The Stars finished 17-16-8 (42 points) at home this season.
*The Stars and Predators both had 25 shots in Saturday’s game. Nashville had a 60-59 advantage in attempted shots.
*Jamie Benn and Patrick Eaves co-led the Stars with four shots.
*The Stars were 1-3 on the power play and 2-2 on the penalty kill.
*The Stars won 31 of 57 faceoffs (54 percent).
*Vernon Fiddler won 8 of 12 draws (67 percent). Jamie Benn won 5 of 6 (83 percent). Shawn Horcoff won 5 of 7 (71 percent). Jason Spezza won 8 of 18 (44 percent). Cody Eakin won 5 of 11 (45 percent).
*Nashville finished the season on a six-game winless streak (0-4-2). The Predators will take on Chicago in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Jamie Benn – Cody Eakin – Patrick Eaves
Valeri Nichushkin – Jason Spezza – Ales Hemsky
Antoine Roussel – Vernon Fiddler – Ryan Garbutt
Travis Moen – Shawn Horcoff – Colton Sceviour
Trevor Daley – John Klingberg
Jordie Benn – Jason Demers
Patrik Nemeth – Jyrki Jokipakka
Scratched: Tyler Seguin
Injured: Alex Goligoski (undisclosed)
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.