Islanders captain John Tavares finished Saturday's 5-4 shootout loss to the Blue Jackets with a goal and an assist, giving him a one point lead over Dallas' Jamie Benn for the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL's leading scorer.
But Benn had a spectacular third period against Nashville, completing a hat trick and earning a last second assist to finish with four points and take the title home.
Sidney Crosby and Tavares entered the night with 84 points each with Benn at 83. Had either player tied Tavares, his 38 goals would have been the tie breaker.
The Islanders' loss to the Blue Jackets stung for a few reasons: they lost a pair of third period leads, squandered an opportunity to earn home ice advantage in their playoff series with the Capitals, and sent a sellout crowd for the final regular season game at Nassau Coliseum home disappointed.
But losing the Art Ross race was the final indignity, preventing Tavares from becoming the first Islander to lead the league in scoring in 36 years.
Instead, Benn becomes the first Minnesota North Star/Dallas Star to win the Art Ross. Congrats to him on a great season under difficult circumstances in Dallas.
Here's Tavares' month-by-month breakdown (stats via NHL.com)
|Stats By Month||Oct||Nov||Dec||Jan||Feb||Mar||Apr|
First Time, Long Time
This may come as a great shock to you, but no Islander had even been in a position to win the Art Ross since Bryan Trottier took the trophy home following the 1978-79 season. Trottier's 134 point total (47g, 87a) beat out Marcel Dionne by four points.
The "closest" an Islander has come to leading the league in scoring was the 2013 lockout season, when Tavares finished 13 points behind Art Ross winner Martin St. Louis. The last time an Islander came in second in the Art Ross race was 1981-82, when Mike Bossy's 147 points were a mere 67 behind winner Wayne Gretzky's 212. Notice the quotation marks on "closest."
This is Tavares' second 80-point season, and he's the only Islander to hit the mark since Ziggy Palffy did it three times in the late 90's.
Here's a list of Art Ross winners and the Islanders leading scorer for that season (via hockey-reference.com).
|SEASON||ART ROSS WINNER||PTS||ISLANDERS LEADER||PTS||DIFFERENCE|
|2013-14||Sidney Crosby||104||Kyle Okposo||69||35|
|2013||Martin St. Louis||60||John Tavares||47||13|
|2011-12||Evgeni Malkin||109||John Tavares||81||28|
|2010-11||Daniel Sedin||104||John Tavares||67||37|
|2009-10||Henrik Sedin||112||John Tavares||54||58|
|2008-09||Evgeni Malkin||112||Mark Streit||56||56|
|2007-08||Alex Ovechkin||112||Mike Comrie||49||63|
|2006-07||Sidney Crosby||120||Jason Blake||69||51|
|2005-06||Joe Thornton||125||Miroslav Satan/Alexei Yashin||66||59|
|2003-04||Martin St. Louis||94||Trent Hunter/Oleg Kvasha||51||43|
|2002-03||Peter Forsberg||106||Alexei Yashin||65||41|
|2001-02||Jarome Iginla||96||Alexei Yashin||75||21|
|2000-01||Jaromir Jagr||121||Mariusz Czerkawski||62||59|
|1999-00||Jaromir Jagr||96||Mariusz Czerkawski||70||26|
|1998-99||Jaromir Jagr||127||Robert Reichel||56||71|
|1997-98||Jaromir Jagr||102||Zigmund Palffy||87||15|
|1996-97||Mario Lemieux||122||Zigmund Palffy||90||32|
|1995-96||Mario Lemieux||161||Zigmund Palffy||87||74|
|1995||Jaromir Jagr||70||Ray Ferraro||43||27|
|1993-94||Wayne Gretzky||130||Pierre Turgeon||94||36|
|1992-93||Mario Lemieux||160||Pierre Turgeon||132||28|
|1991-92||Mario Lemieux||131||Pierre Turgeon||87||44|
|1990-91||Wayne Gretzky||163||Pat LaFontaine||85||78|
|1989-90||Wayne Gretzky||142||Pat LaFontaine||105||37|
|1988-89||Mario Lemieux||199||Pat LaFontaine||88||111|
|1987-88||Mario Lemieux||168||Pat LaFontaine||92||76|
|1986-87||Wayne Gretzky||183||Bryan Trottier||87||96|
|1985-86||Wayne Gretzky||215||Mike Bossy||123||92|
|1984-85||Wayne Gretzky||208||Mike Bossy||117||91|
|1983-84||Wayne Gretzky||205||Mike Bossy||118||87|
|1982-83||Wayne Gretzky||196||Mike Bossy||118||78|
|1981-82||Wayne Gretzky||212||Mike Bossy*||147||65||*second|
|1980-81||Wayne Gretzky||164||Mike Bossy||119||45|
|1979-80||Marcel Dionne||137||Bryan Trottier||104||33|
Cherish the Captain
John Tavares, The Oracle, the man whom the Hockey Gods speak through to us only. He's so automatic and reliable that he's easy to gloss over, or to wonder why he's "lost a step" in November when he's simply going about his business, knowing that rival hot streaks will eventually end and he will be standing when the dusts settles.
With or without the Art Ross, Tavares is one of the NHL's best. The time to appreciate him is now.