Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alex Pietrangelo was ejected from Wednesday’s Game 4 for a wicked two-handed slash on Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl.
Pietrangelo’s stickwork came late in the the third period with Edmonton leading 4-1 and poised to tie up the best-of-seven series at 2-2. Vegas had the goaltender pulled in a desperation to narrow the ledger.
Draisaitl, defended by Shea Theodore, floated a backhand towards the empty net. As the puck sailed wide, Pietrangelo – coming across the ice – delivered a slash across the Oilers forward’s arms.
Referee Chris Rooney, with a front row seat to the infraction, raised his arm right away for the penalty. After a brief video review alongside ref Graham Skilliter, the officials confirmed the call: major penalty and a game misconduct. Pietrangelo’s night – with 1:27 remaining – was over.
Edmonton’s Connor McDavid called for Pietrangelo to be suspended for the slash.
“I would like to see [a suspension],” said McDavid. “It’s as intent-to-injure as you can get. Time, score, clock, all play a factor. […] He comes from over his own head and places it kind of under Leon’s chin. You’d like to see something like that suspended. It’s not a hockey play.”
Rule 61 covers Slashing:
Slashing is the act of a player swinging his stick at an opponent, whether contact is made or not. […] Any forceful or powerful chop with the stick on an opponent’s body, the opponent’s stick, or on or near the opponent’s hands that, in the judgment of the Referee, is not an attempt to play the puck, shall be penalized as slashing.
A minor [or major] penalty, at the discretion of the Referee based on the severity of the contact, shall be imposed on a player who slashes an opponent. When injury occurs, a major penalty must be assessed under this rule. Whenever a major penalty is assessed for slashing, a game misconduct penalty must also be imposed.
The Referee, at his discretion, may assess a match penalty if, in his judgment, the player attempted to or deliberately injured his opponent by slashing.
Rooney and Skilliter opted for door number two there, the major penalty, but this play easily could have been ruled a match penalty. It’s hard to argue that there’s not a clear intent to injure when the puck is long gone and there’s no ‘hockey value’ on the play.
As McDavid pointed out, the motivation appears even clearer late in an already-decided game, with the victim the leading scorer in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The NHL’s Department of Safety has scheduled a hearing with Pietrangelo.
The Edmonton Oilers won the game 4-1 to knot up their Conference Semifinals series against the Vegas Golden Knights at 2-2. Referees for the game were Chris Rooney (#5) and Graham Skilliter (#24), with linesmen Brad Kovachik (#71) and Matt MacPherson (#83).