Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse has been suspended one game for head-butting Kings center Phillip Danault, the NHL announced Wednesday.
Nurse will not be available when the Edmonton tries to avoid elimination from its first-round Stanley Cup playoff series in Game 6 against Los Angeles on Thursday.
The incident between Nurse and Danault occurred late in the second period of Tuesday’s Game 5. LA was on the power play, and Nurse was jockeying for position with Danault at front of Oilers’ netminder Mike Smith. As Smith made a save, Nurse turned his body toward Danault and launched his head into the center’s face.
This is the second suspension of Nurse’s career — the other was a three-game ban in 2016 for an aggressor-rule violation against Roman Polak. That doesn’t qualify Nurse as a repeat offender under the NHL’s collective bargaining agreement, but being suspended for a postseason elimination game reflects a harsher punishment than a one-game suspension during the regular season.
LA rallied from a 2-1 series deficit, winning 5-4 in OT in Game 5, to lead the best-of-seven series 3-2.
The suspension leaves Edmonton to try and force a Game 7 without its defensive stalwart. Nurse led all Oilers in regular season ice time (averaging 25:03 per game) and is an important part of Edmonton’s game at 5-on-5 and special teams. He has averaged nearly 22 minutes in postseason games.