Jamie Benn won the NHL scoring title with just over eight seconds left in his season.
The final day of the NHL regular season began with Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby and New York Islanders star John Tavares tied for the top spot in race for the Art Ross Trophy, with 84 points.
Crosby went scoreless in his game against the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday. Tavares had a goal and an assist in the Islanders’ 5-4 shootout loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets. It looked like the Islanders had their first scoring leader since Bryan Trottier in 1978-79.
But hold on … there was still Benn. The Dallas Stars forward had 83 points entering his final game against the Nashville Predators. He needed a four-point night to win the Art Ross.
Benn opened the scoring at 7:35 of the first period, and then added a second goal at 13:33.
That appeared to be it for Benn, who was held scoreless in the second period and most of the third. But in a one-goal game, the Predators pulled goalie Carter Hutton and Benn scored his 35th goal of the season into an empty net to complete the hat trick, pulling even with Tavares as 17:55.
And that appeared to be that … until 19:51 of the third.
The Stars wanted their captain to win the Art Ross, so they put him back out late in the game. Dallas buzzed around the Nashville zone, with Benn keeping the puck in on a clearing attempt. Trevor Daley picked up the puck, shoveled it in front to Cody Eakin and Eakin scored.
There was 8.5 seconds left in the game. There was 8.5 seconds left in Jamie Benn’s season. But his secondary assist on Eakin’s goal gave him 87 points and the scoring title.
Benn wins the Art Ross with the lowest point total in a non-lockout year since Stan Mikita’s 87 points in 1967-68 – back when they played 74-game seasons.
Benn played 81 games, giving him the lowest points-per-game for an Art Ross winner (1.06) since Elmer Lach in 1947-48.
But hey: An Art Ross is an Art Ross, and Benn earned it, scoring 23 points in 12 games to rally for the scoring title, becoming the first Dallas player to ever win one.
You might not be headed to the playoffs, Jamie Benn, but you earned a trip to Las Vegas to collect some hardware …