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Golden Knights, Oilers lose key defensemen to suspensions

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid was correct in saying that Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alex Pietrangelo’s slash on star forward Leon Draisaitl was suspension-worthy.

Pietrangelo was suspended one game for his infraction in the Oilers’ series-tying win on Wednesday, but Edmonton will be also down a defenseman for Friday’s crucial Game 5 because of a suspension to Darnell Nurse.

Draisaitl, who leads all playoff goal scorers with 13 goals, had unsuccessfully attempted to score into an empty net. Pietrangelo raised his stick high and delivered a hard slash to Draisaitl’s forearm with 1:27 left.

‘You’d like to see it reviewed, for sure,’ said McDavid, who tangled with Pietrangelo after the play. ‘I would like to see it suspended. It’s as ‘intent to injure’ as you can get. Time, score, clock all play a factor.’

Pietrangelo received a five-minute major and a game misconduct. But NHL Player Safety ruled that the play went beyond the on-ice penalty.

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The slash was part of a total of 93 penalty minutes called in the third period.

That included Nurse drawing an instigator penalty in a fight with Vegas’ Nicolas Hague in the final minute. That led to an automatic one-game suspension for Nurse for instigating a fight in the final five minutes of regulation, plus a $10,000 fine for Oilers coach Jay Woodcroft.

Pietrangelo and Nurse lead their teams in ice time and Pietrangelo has six assists to Nurse’s four. Their series is tied 2-2 with Game 5 scheduled for 10 p.m. ET in Las Vegas.

The Oilers won 4-1 on Wednesday with Nick Bjugstad and Evan Bouchard scoring 52 seconds apart in the first period. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, a 100-point scorer in the regular season, got his first goal of the postseason. So did defenseman Mattias Ekholm.

Oilers goalie Stuart Skinner made 25 saves, allowing only a third-period goal by Nicolas Roy.

‘Big win for our group,’ Woodcroft said. ‘Best-of-three from now on.’

This post appeared first on USA TODAY

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