A late fight in Game 4’s victory over the Vegas Golden Knights could force the Edmonton Oilers to be without defenceman Darnell Nurse on Friday night.
With the Oilers fully in control of the game and carrying a 4-1 lead in the final moments of the contest, Nurse’s fight with Nic Hague seemed to be the cherry on the cake to rile up the Rogers Place crowd.
Darnell Nurse and Nic Hague finally go at it. 😳🥊 pic.twitter.com/efkjrr6r07
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) May 11, 2023
Shortly after the game had wrapped up, however, fans came to realize how costly that fight may end up being for the Oilers.
“Darnell Nurse getting an instigator in the final 5 minutes is a one-game suspension, but it can be overturned on review,” Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman tweeted shortly after the final buzzer sounded.
Darnell Nurse getting an instigator in the final 5 minutes is a one-game suspension, but it can be overturned on review
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) May 11, 2023
From the perspective of Oilers head coach Jay Woodcroft, the instigator penalty handed to Nurse was not the correct call from the on-ice officials. While nothing has been announced from the league yet, it is clear they expect it to be reversed.
“I saw Darnell wrap somebody up, two guys bear hugging each other, and I saw their player with his gloves off first,” Woodcroft said to media postgame. “I saw their player throw eight punches, so to me, that’s two willing combatants. It’s not like somebody was turtled up in a ball. I saw two willing combatants. As I said, I believe it started with [Hague], he had his gloves off first and threw eight punches.”
Nurse’s 23:24 minutes per game through the playoffs is second amongst his teammates to only Connor McDavid, as Woodcroft relies on him heavily to play in any and all situations.
An update on Nurse’s availability for Game 5 is expected to be made at some point today.
Game 5 goes Friday night in Vegas, with puck drop set for 8 pm MT.