The post Game 4 Rally Cry Around Darnell Nurse Just What Oilers Needed appeared first on NHL Trade Talk.

On Wednesday night, the Edmonton Oilers demonstrated exceptional fortitude and resilience in their 5-2 win over the Dallas Stars in Game 4 of the Western Conference Final. While the team understood the importance of winning with respect to their playoff lives and a chance to stay in the series, one key to their victory was their ability to rally around defenseman Darnell Nurse. It’s certainly not ideal for any one player to be the target of online criticism and media attention, but one has to wonder if the timing was ideal.

Related: Oilers Rally, Even Series with Stars in Resilient 5-2 Win in Game 4

Nurse came under heavy fire in the days leading up to the critical game, and even when things went south early in the first period, the team gathered themselves and put together a great performance; as did Nurse, who played one of his finest games of the playoffs.

Darnell Nurse Oilers

Fans and media had been quick to point fingers, prompting a defensive stance from his teammates before puck drop. Following the morning skate and subsequent media sessions, Nurse walked out early from a scrum. His captain, Connor McDavid, also shielded him during a media presser when McDavid said, “I’ll take that,” when questions about Nurse’s performance arose.

“I’ll take that.”

McDavid hopped right in to defend when Stuart Skinner was asked Darnell Nurse’s struggles.

— Spittin’ Chiclets (@spittinchiclets) May 29, 2024

The Oilers didn’t just need the win to tie the series. They needed to show Nurse they had his back.

Leading up to Game 4, Nurse’s plus/minus rating of -12 was a misleading statistic that failed to represent his overall game accurately. Many of the goals against were not directly his fault. Unfortunately, that pattern continued in the first period as he was on the ice for the first goal against, and the second goal, which ricocheted off his backside past goaltender Stuart Skinner. Within minutes, Nurse was -2, but this only seemed to galvanize both him and the team.

The Oilers’ Rally Around Nurse Was Impressive

The Oilers played a solid team game, even with three new faces – Corey Perry, Ryan McLeod, and Philip Broberg — in the lineup. But it was Nurse with the standout performance as the game rolled along. He channeled his frustration into his play and delivered a game-high 12 hits – a number that tied his career high and was more than his total over the last seven games combined. Nurse’s physicality set the tone, and his determination was evident throughout the game. Calling it a true show of character, Connor Brown stood up for Nurse again after the game saying the external pressure Nurse had faced was immense. “Everyone and their dog coming at him this morning,” Brown noted.

“Everyone and their dog coming at him this morning.”

Connor Brown on all the media talking about Darnell Nurse before Game 4.

— Spittin’ Chiclets (@spittinchiclets) May 30, 2024

Brown wasn’t the only one to have Nurse’s back. His teammates and coaches were full of praise for his pushback and performance. “It was his best game of the series and of the playoffs,” remarked Oilers coach Chris Knoblauch. He added:

“He was engaged, but I like how he moved his feet. He is one of the best in the league at eliminating space with his speed. I liked how he jumped up in the rush a few times. After an unfortunate start where he had to defend a 2-on-1, then we lose a faceoff and the shot goes in off him on the second, many players could have folded then, but he responded and played great.”

Leon Draisaitl also highlighted Nurse’s contributions, stating, “A lot of the things he does well go unnoticed. Maybe his confidence wasn’t where it usually is, but he’s human and that is normal at times. He was excellent for us tonight.”

Was This the Rallying Cry the Oilers Needed?

Nurse’s turnaround was symbolic of the Oilers’ overall performance. They showcased depth and resilience, with key contributions from players like Ryan McLeod and Mattias Janmark, who scored a short-handed goal, the Oilers’ first of the season. Evan Bouchard, Leon Draisaitl, and Mattias Ekholm also scored, while Connor McDavid was instrumental with three assists. The penalty kill was perfect once again, stopping all of Dallas’ power plays and extending their streak to 23 consecutive successful kills.

The victory not only evened the series at 2-2 but also demonstrated the Oilers’ capacity to stick up for a teammate and deliver under pressure. Nurse’s performance was a testament to his character and the support of his team was a testament to how much he means to this group.

The timing here was ideal. As they move forward in the series, the Oilers will look to build on this momentum and try to steal another game in Dallas.

Next: Make No Mistake: Maple Leafs Easton Cowan Has Arrived

The post Game 4 Rally Cry Around Darnell Nurse Just What Oilers Needed appeared first on NHL Trade Talk.

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