Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alex Pietrangelo and Edmonton Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse are both suspended for Game 5 of their Western Conference second-round series for separate incidents in Wednesday night’s Game 4 in Edmonton.
Pietrangelo was suspended one game for an intentional slash on the forearm of Oilers star Leon Draisaitl, the leading scorer in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
With 1:28 left in regulation and the Golden Knights trailing 4-1, Draisaitl skated down the right ring into the Vegas zone and attempted to put the puck into an empty net. Well after his shot, Pietrangelo skated over and delivered a two-handed slash to the left arm of Draisaitl.
With Draisaitl down, Oilers star Connor McDavid engaged Pietrangelo, and they traded a couple of punches.
Pietrangelo was given a major penalty for slashing and a game misconduct.
The Department of Players Safety ruled that the puck was away from Draisaitl for a significant amount of time and that Pietrangelo “ignored the play, raised his stick and delivered a slash to a vulnerable area of his opponent with sufficient force” to earn supplemental discipline.
Pietrangelo has never been fined nor suspended before his 15-year NHL career.
A source familiar with the Player Safety hearing indicated that the state of play — a tied series entering Game 5, in the second round of the playoffs — and the lack of injury for Draisaitl were factors in the suspension only being one game.
Nurse is also suspended for Game 5 as a result of an instigator penalty he was given in the final minute of regulation Wednesday night.
An instigator penalty in the final five minutes of a game or in overtime carries an automatic one-game suspension per Rule 46.21, pending a review of the incident by the NHL. The review was handled by the NHL Department of Player Safety, which upheld Nurse’s ban for Game 5.
The Oilers won Game 4 to even their series against the Golden Knights.
With 49.7 seconds left in the game and the Oilers on the power play, Nurse and Vegas defenseman Nicolas Hague had a spirited fight. Hague had Edmonton forward Warren Foegele pinned against the boards. Nurse skated over and engaged Hague, leading to the fight.
Both players were given a fighting major, but Nurse was given a minor penalty for instigating the fight that carries a 10-minute misconduct penalty.
“I saw the play going on, I saw Darnell wrap somebody up and I saw their player with his gloves off first,” Oilers coach Jay Woodcroft said after the game. “So to me, that’s two willing combatants. It’s not like someone was turtled up into a ball. I thought it started with [Hague] having his gloves off first and he threw the first eight punches.”
Woodcroft was fined $10,000 by the NHL, which is also an automatic penalty under the instigator rule.
Mark Stone of the Golden Knights said that Hague asked for the fight.
“I think he asked him off the faceoff and then gets jumped. That’s the way to answer the bell by him,” the Vegas winger said.
Game 5 between the Oilers and Golden Knights is Friday night at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.