NHL Suspends Oilers’ Nurse, Could Suspend Golden Knights’ Pietrangelo

May 11, 2023, 3:16 PM


Leon Draisaitl #29 of the Edmonton Oilers battles for the puck with Jonathan Marchessault #81 of the Las Vegas Golden Knights in the second period in Game Four of the Second Round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs May 10, 2023 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Lawrence Scott/Getty Images)

(Photo by Lawrence Scott/Getty Images)

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.

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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 by 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.

“We don’t have to do anything different, just have to keep playing our game,” Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky said. “Be patient. They are a good team. Nobody said it’s going to be easy.”

The Panthers would have preferred not getting on a plane for Toronto, but there isn’t any sense of discouragement — especially with a 3-1 lead.

“It was so much fun,” Bobrovsky said of Game 4. “The atmosphere was great. Again, I was fortunate to be there, to be on the ice and had a good game, had fun out there, so looking forward to next game.”

Leafs forward Mitch Marner was asked if he thought some pressure would shift back to Florida, after the Panthers missed a chance at finishing off a sweep — and giving Toronto new life in this series.

“Who cares? We’re about ourselves in here,” Marner said. “We’re focusing on ourselves. We’ve got to keep this effort up.”

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NHL Suspends Oilers’ Nurse, Could Suspend Golden Knights’ Pietrangelo