Wild Night In Edmonton - Series Tied at 2. Suspensions Incoming
This series makes no sense.
Both Vegas and Edmonton have alternated this series being the dominant force and looking totally helpless. Last night was the Oilers turn to take over the game and they did so in convincing fashion, playing arguably their most complete game of the entire post-season thus far. This is the kind of momentum that the Oilers need to carry over into the next game as they're going to need to win 2 in a row to win this series.
In Game 3 the Golden Knights were able to skate around freely with very little to block their way towards the Oilers net. That was not the case in Game 4 as Edmonton did an excellent job at blocking lanes and simply preventing Vegas from gaining much zone time. Woodcroft heavily criticized his players after Game 3 for their lack of skating; it was on full display last night. Edmonton needed to find a way to win at 5 on 5, they did that in spades.
A big reason for the win was the new lines of McDavid with RNH and Hyman and Draisaitl with Kane and Yamamoto. Woodcroft seemed to favor Draisaitl more against Eichel with McDavid taking the Stone matchup. The Eichel line still got some licks in against the Oilers but overall all of the lines were excellent for Edmonton.
RNH finally scored his first goal of the playoffs and even if he hadn't I would still say he played his best of the playoffs. Nuge was playing with some grit and his goal was a result of going to the tough places of the ice and simply firing a puck on net. Need to see this type of effort from him moving forward.
After a rough Game 3, Evan Bouchard played a great game last night, notching a goal and playing smart defensively, making smart outlet passes in transition. Going to need all of that and more from him likely in Game 5 but more on that in a second.
Stuart Skinner also rebounded in a huge way, allowing only one goal and making some big stops early when Vegas was still pressing to keep in the game. His stop on Stone in particular was a thing of beauty. Adin Hill after looking unbeatable in Game 3 started his first full game and Edmonton feasted. The two goals scored by defensemen specifically looked like he had a hard time reading. I would be looking to see more of that in Game 5.
Alright let's talk about the suspensions that are likely incoming.
We will start with Nurse. Darnell Nurse took an instigator penalty near the end of the game, going after Vegas defender Nicolas Hague. Hague and Nurse had been chirping and going after one another for the entire game; most of this series in fact. Nurse went in first but Hague was the first one to really start throwing punches.
The rule is that an instigator penalty in the final 5 minutes of a game is an automatic one game suspension. That suspension can be reviewed and can be overruled IF they decide the instigator penalty was the wrong call. If that doesn't happen, Nurse will sit out Game 5.
Now onto Pietrangelo.
Have the Edmonton Oilers played Pietrangelo hard? Absolutely. Have they taken some extra liberties and cheap shots at him during the game that have gone missed? Also completely true but it's the playoffs and if you aren't cheating you aren't trying. Every team targets the other teams top players and tries to throw them off their game.
However what Pietrangelo did at the end of the game to Draisaitl goes beyond that. For those who haven't seen; here is the play in question.
Draisaitl dumps the puck around the boards and a few seconds later, Pietrangelo comes up and two hand chops at Draisaitl. He quite literally raises his stick about his head and then comes down.
A 5 minute was called on the play and as of this morning we have already heard that the Department of Player Safety is going to have a hearing with Pietrangelo. He will get suspended.
How many games? Probably just one but I would like to see a two game suspension or more. I despise incidents that are quite simply intent to injure. We aren't talking about a split second decision to hit a player and end up going high or a collision that ends up being knee on knee. Alex Pietrangelo skated over with the only intent to slash a player who has no reason to expect a play like that occurring. It's gutless, it's pathetic and he deserves to sit for it.
At the end of the day we will likely see Nurse and Pietrangelo both sit for a game. It's the easy and safe decision for the NHL that prevents either fanbase from getting too riled up. One of these days, the Department of Player Safety is going to need a full overhaul and decide they want to get serious on protecting the safety of it's players.
I'll see you all back here on Friday for Game 5. Thanks for reading!