Look, people who have read my stuff the last couple years know I’m a fan of Nikita Zadorov. He’s a pretty honest guy to talk to in the room, he cares about his teammates and he has to do a lot of the dirty work that doesn’t always get noticed.
But sometimes, the dirty work does get noticed. For instance, that retaliation slash he gave Dryden Hunt in the third period tonight, a point in a game in which the Avs had a 3-1 lead. To set the scene a bit more: Big Z had just annihilated Jayce Hawryluk with a totally clean hit a few minutes before. The kid had his head down along the wall and Z just crushed him. But it was all clean.
Yet, of course, you knew the Panthers would do something to try and get back at Big Z. That time came with about 8:07 left in regulation. Dryden Hunt, one of the Panthers’ more “physical” type players. hit Z along the boards, then gave him a bit of a whack with the stick. OK, so Hunt got his shot in. Big Z isn’t the type to just keep taking it, so he became engaged a bit skating back up ice, but it seemed like that would be the end of it. And it probably would have been.
But….BUT: Big Z couldn’t resist. He skated next to Hunt and drilled him with a slash to the lower left leg. How much it really hurt Hunt, we’ll never know, but Hunt played it for all it was worth, limping around toward Z and then all heck broke loose.
Z gets the extra two minutes for the slash, the Panthers score on the power play, get the following goal that tied it and get the OT goal. A finely played 52 minutes of hockey all turned with that Z-Hunt thing.
Question is: is it all Z’s fault?
Watch the play and tell me what you think: