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Art Ross Race: Tavares finishes one point behind Dallas' Benn for league's top scorer

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He didn't win, but Tavares is starting to take his place among Islanders greats.

A common occurance.
A common occurance.
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

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
Games Played: 10 14 13 12 15 13 5
Goals: 4 6 5 8 7 4 4
Assists: 8 5 4 8 10 8 5
Points: 12 11 9 16 17 12 9

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.