EDMONTON — It was a vicious end between the Edmonton Oilers and Vegas Golden Knights in Game 4 of their Western Conference second-round series on Wednesday when Vegas’ alternate captain Alex Pietrangelo slashed Oilers star Leon Draisaitl while he attempted an empty net shot opportunity late in the third period to seal Edmonton’s 4-1 victory.
Pietrangelo earned a five-minute major and game misconduct for his actions against Draisaitl, who paces the playoff field with 13 goals and 17 points.
The play didn’t sit well with Draisaitl’s teammates either, who wondered if the Golden Knights’ blueliner deserves supplemental discipline from the NHL’s Department of Player Safety.
“You would like to see it reviewed for sure. I’d like to see it suspended,” said Edmonton captain Connor McDavid, who challenged Pietrangelo immediately following the slash on Draisaitl. “It was as intent to injure as you can get. That was not a hockey play.”
Pietrangelo has a goal and assist in the second-round series so far. The veteran has never been suspended in his career.
Edmonton coach Jay Woodcroft held back when asked about Pietrangelo after Edmonton’s win but believed someone at the league would look at the play.
“If you’re asking my opinion on that play, I would not define it as a hockey play,” Woodcroft said. “And I’ll leave it at that.”
There was more chippy activity towards the end of Game 4 after Pietrangelo made his exit. On the ensuing Oilers’ power play Darnell Nurse and Nicolas Hague traded fisticuffs, which wound up with Nurse getting an instigator penalty that sent him out for the night.
Receiving an instigator penalty in the final five minutes of a game is generally an automatic one-game suspension but can be overturned upon review.
“I saw the play going on, I saw Darnell wrap somebody up and I saw their player with his gloves off first,” said Woodcroft. “So to me, that’s two willing combatants. It’s not like someone was turtled up into a ball. I thought it started with [Hague] having his gloves off first and he threw the first eight punches.”
It all made for a tumultuous climax to a game the Oilers carried all along.
Edmonton trailed Vegas 2-1 in the series going into Wednesday’s tilt after a lopsided 5-1 loss on Monday in Game 3. That’s the sort of roller coaster this matchup has been, with each game producing four or more goals from the winning side.
Edmonton has been at their best in the series when special teams are heavily involved. The Oilers trounced Vegas 5-1 in Game 2’s infraction-fueled affair — with 124 penalty minutes doled out between the sides — that produced three power play goals from the Oilers.
By comparison, when Edmonton fell 5-1 in Game 3, they went 0-for-2 with the extra man.
Edmonton didn’t capitalize specifically with its first power play try but the momentum carried over when 40 seconds later Nick Bjugstad beat Adin Hill on a wraparound try to give the Oilers’ a 1-0 lead.
Wednesday marked Hill’s first NHL playoff start, filling in for the injured Laurent Brossoit. Vegas’ No. 1 goalie was hurt in Game 3 and Hill was perfect making 28 saves in relief of Brossoit in that outing. The 26-year-old struggled mightily out of the gate in Game 4, though.
Minutes later Edmonton was back on the power play, and Evan Bouchard needed just seconds to blast a shot through traffic to spot and spot the Oilers a 2-0 advantage less than 10 minutes into the opening frame.
Mattias Ekholm added another — his first in 11 games — to make it 3-0 Edmonton. That score would stand well into the second period, until Ryan Nugent-Hopkins tallied his first goal in 12 games to give the Oilers a 4-0 lead.
The Golden Knights host the Oilers in Game 5 on Friday.
Connor McDavid says Alex Pietrangelo’s slash on Leon Draisaitl was ‘intent to injure’