Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alex Pietrangelo will be suspended for one game for his actions late in a Game 4 loss to the Edmonton Oilers according to a release from the NHL’s Department of Player Safety.
The incident happened late in Game 4, with the Golden Knights trailing 4-1 and their goaltender pulled for an extra attacker. Oilers star forward Leon Draisaitl was skating into the Golden Knights zone with the puck and back-handed it toward the yawning cage. He barely missed, but a few seconds after releasing the puck, Pietrangelo continued toward him and slashed him on the forearm.
It was not just a small slash on the wrist. It was a blatantly obvious attempt to injure an opponent with a two-handed swing akin to a lumberjack trying to split a block of wood into two pieces with a rusted hatchet. The puck was long gone, the play around Draisaitl was over, and for all Pietrangelo knew, the puck could have already been in the Golden Knights’ net.
Pietrangelo was assessed a five-minute major penalty for slashing and a game misconduct. The Department of Player Safety took a closer look at the incident today and held a hearing this morning with the Golden Knights defenseman. It was determined that a one-game ban was necessary for such a reckless and needless slash of an unsuspecting opponent.
The Golden Knights will now be without their top defender as they look to take a series lead in Game 5. The two teams have traded blowout victories in this series, with the teams now locked up at two wins apiece. No one played more minutes on the Golden Knights than Pietrangelo in Game 4, as he led the way with 23:54 so he will be sorely missed.
The Oilers will be without a top defender of their own as Darnell Nurse was also handed a one-game suspension for instigating a fight in the final five minutes of the contest. Nurse ranks first among Oilers defensemen in ice time in the playoffs, averaging 23:24 per game in the playoffs so far.
Both teams will have their defensive depth tested on Friday night when they face off in Game 5 in Vegas.