NHL suspends Golden Knights’ Pietrangelo, Oilers’ Nurse ahead of Game 5

Oilers’ Darnell Nurse (left) and Golden Knights' Alex Pietrangelo (right)
Oilers’ Darnell Nurse (left) and Golden Knights' Alex Pietrangelo (right)(AP photos)
Published: May. 11, 2023 at 1:35 PM PDT
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UPDATE - 5:15 P.M.

Golden Knights’ defenseman Alex Pietrangelo has been suspended one game for a slash on Oilers’ winger Leon Draisaitl Wednesday night.

The slash came late in the third period resulting in a 5-minute major power play for Edmonton and Pietrangelo’s ejection from the game.

The Oilers’ would go on to win four to one evening the best-of-seven series at two games apiece.

Over the course of the contentious matchup, Oilers’ defenseman Darnell Nurse also earned a one-game suspension for instigating a fight with Vegas defender Nick Hague.

Original story continues below.

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The Vegas Golden Knights could be without their best defenseman with their second-round series against the Edmonton Oilers hanging in the balance.

Alex Pietrangelo faced a potential suspension Thursday by the NHL Department of Player Safety for his slash on Edmonton’s Leon Draisaitl in the final two minutes of the Oilers’ 4-1 victory on Wednesday night that knotted the series at 2-2. Game 5 is Friday night in Las Vegas.

Oilers captain Connor McDavid said after the game that Pietrangelo should be suspended.

“He comes from over his own head and places it kind of under Leon’s chin,” McDavid said. “It’s not a hockey play.”

His coach, Jay Woodcroft, agreed: “I would not define it as a hockey play and I’d leave it at that.”

Knights coach Bruce Cassidy said that Pietrangelo has been a model player.

“He’s got no history of suspension or being called on the carpet by the league,” Cassidy said. “Petro’s a pretty honest player, I can attest to that. We love the way he plays the game for us.”

The Oilers will be without defenseman Darnell Nurse, who received instigator and misconduct penalties after the Pietrangelo slash. Because the instigator penalty occurred in the final minute, it carries an automatic one-game suspension, a decision upheld b the NHL.

Tensions have been high throughout the series and they came to a boiling point Wednesday. Misconduct penalties were handed out to Vegas’ Chandler Stephenson, Jonathan Marchessault and Brett Howden as well as Edmonton’s Kailer Yamamoto and Evander Kane. The Knights’ Nic Hague went out for fighting.

Kane, a longtime Knights nemesis dating to his days with the San Jose Sharks, has been at the center of the bad blood. He took a running start at the end of the second period in Game 3 and cross-checked Pietrangelo; one game earlier, Kane was assessed a double minor and 10-minute misconduct after repeatedly hitting Vegas’ Keegan Kolesar as he lay on the ice.

The Knights were the NHL’s least-penalized team during the regular season, but they haven’t been faultless in this series. Pietrangelo received a roughing penalty in Game 1.

This series has turned into a best-of-three, and it could be decided by which is the more disciplined side.

“The clean physicality is fine,” Cassidy said. “The stuff that isn’t should be addressed and should be managed in game by the officials.”

PANTHERS at MAPLE LEAFS, Florida leads 3-1 (7 p.m. Eastern, TNT).

Joseph Woll was a wall for Toronto in Game 4, and now the rookie goaltender -- taking over for the injured Ilya Samsonov -- gets a chance to win another elimination game Friday night when the series returns to Toronto. Matt Murray will remain the backup.

“It isn’t a reflection of how we feel about Matt Murray. It is more about how we feel about Joe Woll and his development over the last year,” Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said.

Toronto has scored two goals in six consecutive games despite its roster full of stars. The Maple Leafs haven’t had a streak of two goals or less in that many games in a row since November 2011 and haven’t had exactly two goals (excluding shootout goals) in six straight games since December 1956.

That bodes well for the notion that Toronto’s offense is due to break out.

Or, it could be argued that Florida’s defense is on point right now.

Joseph Woll was a wall for Toronto in Game 4, and now the rookie goaltender -- taking over for the injured Ilya Samsonov -- gets a chance to win another elimination game Friday night when the series returns to Toronto. Matt Murray will remain the backup.

“It isn’t a reflection of how we feel about Matt Murray. It is more about how we feel about Joe Woll and his development over the last year,” Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said.

Toronto has scored two goals in six consecutive games despite its roster full of stars. The Maple Leafs haven’t had a streak of two goals or less in that many games in a row since November 2011 and haven’t had exactly two goals (excluding shootout goals) in six straight games since December 1956.

That bodes well for the notion that Toronto’s offense is due to break out.

Or, it could be argued that Florida’s defense is on point right now.