The Edmonton Oilers will head to Los Angeles for Game 6 of their first-round playoff series with the Kings, but a key defenseman won’t be playing because of his head. Darnell Nurse is suspended for Edmonton’s potential elimination game for head-butting Kings center Phillip Danault during Game 5, the NHL‘s department of player safety announced Wednesday.
With Edmonton down 3-1 in the final moments of Game 5’s second period, Nurse drove his head into Danault’s jaw with what looked to be significant force after the whistle. Los Angeles proceeded to win 5-4 in overtime.
“It is important to note that this is not an accidental collision that occurs when two players are moving at speed and heads collide while attempting to throw a legal full body check,” the NHL’s department of player safety said in a video announcing the decision. “This is an unacceptable head-butt delivered with the top of the helmet directly to an opponent’s face with some force.”
Here’s video of the incident, which did not injure Danault:
The loss of Nurse comes at the worst possible time for Edmonton. The Oilers trail Los Angeles 3-2 despite owning a six-goal advantage in the series, and Game 6 will take place in Crypto.com Arena on Thursday.
This Nurse’s second career suspension. His first came in 2016, when he missed three games after bloodying then-San Jose Sharks defenseman Roman Polak in a fight.