Tony Gutierrez / AP
Wednesday, May 24, 2023 | 1:32 p.m.
DALLAS — The Golden Knights could be facing a depleted Dallas Stars team heading into Game 4 of the Western Conference Final.
Stars captain Jamie Benn is set to have a meeting with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety this afternoon regarding his cross-check to Vegas captain Mark Stone less than two minutes into Game 3 on Tuesday.
Benn was assessed a major penalty and a game misconduct after delivering the check while Stone was laying on the ice.
“I didn’t love what transpired, but it got handled the right way,” Stone said Wednesday. “We stuck together as a team, and now our focus is on Game 4.”
That focus translates to the Golden Knights being one win away from returning to the Stanley Cup Final for the second time in six seasons. Vegas leads the series 3-0 and will try to complete the second sweep in team history (2018 first round against Los Angeles).
Game 4 is Thursday at American Airlines Center (5 p.m., ESPN).
A hearing from DOPS usually results in a suspension. Golden Knights defenseman Alex Pietrangelo was forced to sit for a game in the second round against Edmonton after slashing Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl at the end of Game 4.
Pietrangelo had his hearing on May 11 and was suspended hours later.
“Just an unfortunate play. I just need to be more responsible with my body and stick,” Benn said. “I put my team in a tough situation. It was pretty unfortunate.”
Benn’s penalty came at a time when the Stars were already facing an uphill climb. Jonathan Marchessault scored the game’s first goal 42 seconds earlier, and Benn’s penalty resulted in a five-minute power play for the Golden Knights.
Ivan Barbashev scored on that man advantage for a two-goal lead, and then William Carrier made it 3-0 less than two minutes later.
Benn said if there was anything he could’ve done differently, he “wouldn’t have taken a five-minute penalty, but when the game happens fast, emotions are high.”
“Obviously, I would have liked to not fall on him and use my stick as a landing point,” Benn continued.
Benn might not be the only one to miss the potential elimination game for Dallas. Forward Evgenii Dadonov is listed as doubtful with a lower-body injury, coach Pete DeBoer said, meaning the Stars could be without two of their top nine forwards.
With Dallas’ season on the line, all options could be on the table, including playing young players that have never played in an NHL game.
But this is a situation that shows the importance of depth and health, and both are luxuries for the Golden Knights right now. Forward Brett Howden did not play in the third period Tuesday due to a lower-body injury, but coach Bruce Cassidy called that a precautionary move and would not rule him out for Thursday.
Stone said there was a time and place to stand up for teammates, but that five-minute power play was reason enough to put emotions aside.
“I didn’t expect to get stomped out like that,” Stone said. “It’s hard to come back from down three. At that point in the game, it was probably time to put the pride away and play the game.”
Danny Webster can be reached at 702-259-8814 or [email protected]. Follow Danny on Twitter at twitter.com/DannyWebster21.