As expected, the Edmonton Oilers will be without star defenseman Darnell Nurse when they try to stay alive tomorrow night. The Department of Player Safety has announced a one-game suspension following last night’s head-butting incident, ruling Nurse out for game six. As the accompanying video explains:
It is important to note that this is not an accidental collision that occurs when two players are moving at speed and heads collide when attempting to throw a legal body check. This is an unacceptable head-butt delivered with the top of the helmet, delivered with the top of the helmet directly to an opponent’s face, with force.
For Nurse, it is a brutal decision that will leave his team shorthanded in the most important game of the season. The incident occurred late in the second period with the Kings on the powerplay, and was not penalized by the on-ice officials. As the league notes, there is no significant history of this behavior from the Oilers defenseman (at least in terms of supplementary discipline) as he has just one previous suspension–a three-game ban for serving as the aggressor in a 2016 fight.
There was also no injury on the play for Phillip Danault, who would go on to score in the third period and finish the game. Those factors will at least keep Nurse available for a game seven, should the series reach that.
It was actually Kassian’s cross-check that put the Oilers on the penalty kill in the first place, as he delivered a hard shot to the back of Durzi after the Kings’ defenseman was hit by Evander Kane. As Kane and Blake Lizotte engaged and received matching roughing penalties, Kassian cross-checked Durzi and took his own two-minute minor. Luckily, at least for the Oilers, it will only cost Kassian some money and not a chance to play in game six when they will need all hands on deck to avoid a disappointing series result.
In a related move, Edmonton recalled Philip Broberg from Bakersfield of the AHL. He played in 23 games with the Oilers during the regular season and could be an option to take Nurse’s place in the lineup.