Oilers nurse suspended game for whim

Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse has been suspended for one game due to Kings center Phillip Danault’s header, the NHL announced Wednesday.

Nurse will not be available when 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 happened late in the second period of Game 5 on Tuesday. LA was on the power play and Nurse was playing for position with Danault in front of Oilers goaltender Mike Smith. As Smith made a save, Nurse turned his body towards Danault and slammed 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. This does not qualify Nurse as a repeat offender under the NHL’s collective bargaining agreement, but being suspended for a playoff game in the playoffs 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 trying to force a Game 7 without their defensive mainstay. Nurse led all of the Oilers in ice time during the regular season (averaging 25:03 per game) and is a big part of Edmonton’s 5-on-5 game and on special teams. He averaged almost 22 minutes in post-season games.

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