A crushing defeat for the Oilers ahead of a must-win Game 6.
ON WEDNESDAY, the NHL Department of Player Safety announced that Oilers defender Darnell Nurse had been banned one game for headbutting Kings forward Philip Danault on Tuesday night during Game 5 of the two clubs’ first-round playoff series.
Nurse, who had the most ice time of any Oiler in the first five games of the series, will now be unavailable on Thursday as his club prepares to face elimination on the road, with their season on the line.
It could not have happened more conveniently for such an important player to execute such a risky deed. And that didn’t have to happen.
Nurse targeted Danault with a headbutt that made primary contact with his bare jaw with fewer than 15 seconds remaining in the second period, just after Mike Smith had gobbled up a loose puck to stop play and stall a Kings’ power-play effort that had been rolling to that point.
A nurse is much too important a player to miss full playoff games for such trivial reasons. The Oilers will now face the daunting task of keeping their season alive on enemy territory against a tough opponent.
The nurse will be able to return for a Game 7 rematch. However, the Oilers must first force one. And now that Nurse has been suspended. The chances do not look to be in their favor.