Instant Reaction: Nikita Zadorov scores twice as best in the West Canucks beat Canadiens 4-1

Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
David Quadrelli
3 months ago
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Welcome back to Instant Reaction — the series here at CanucksArmy where we give you our instant reaction to the game and ask our readers to do the same in the comments section below! Wyatt Arndt is on Stanchies, and Mike Liu will have the Statsies — CA’s analytics-based post game report — up tomorrow morning.
The Habs started the game looking like the 2016-19 Canucks at their absolute best. This means that they forechecked hard, worked really hard, and caught a superior team by surprise. Only nowadays, that superior team is the Canucks.
The Canucks held off the Habs’ early push, and Elias Pettersson — who has been looking good as of late — drew his team-leading 25th penalty to give the Canucks their first power play of the game. Montreal took a bench minor less than a minute into the man advantage, giving the Canucks a lengthy 5-on-3. On Tuesday night against Buffalo, the Canucks got some great looks but scored just once. Tonight was more of the same:
A hard-working shift from the third line of Ilya Mikheyev, Elias Lindholm, and Sam Lafferty resulted in the Canucks opening the scoring this one. The Canadiens are a one line team through and through, and it was quite clear that one of the Canucks’ keys to victory was going to have to be winning their matchups when not facing Montreal’s top line. Lindholm did a great job keeping the puck in at the line, and Ilya Mikheyev did well to keep the play going. Nikita Zadorov finished the shift off with the first goal of the game:
The Canucks picked up three power play opportunities in the period, but couldn’t convert. They got their looks and their chances, but needed another 5v5 goal from an unlikely source.
Or is it a likely source if you score twice in a period?
Because that’s exactly what Nikita Zadorov did.
Looking like Andrei Kuzmenko (playing defence), Zadorov beaver-tailed as he demanded to receive the puck, and for good reason. What a snipe it was, as the Canucks exited the first period up by a pair of goals.
One thing that needs to be talked about and that was very evident in the first period is just how good Casey DeSmith has been since taking over for the injured Thatcher Demko as the Canucks’ starting netminder. DeSmith has been great in his five starts since Demko went down, with a 5v5 save percentage over .920. He was excellent in the opening frame.
In the second period, that continued. DeSmith made perhaps his best save of the season to keep the Canucks up by a pair when Montreal came out with another push.
After not much for either side at evens during the second, Rick Tocchet reunited the Lotto Line. They were absolutely dominant on their first shift, as Elias Pettersson continued to look like he’s absolutely feeling it. On their second shift together though, there was some disengaged play through the neutral zone and the defensive zone. It seemed like toward the end of the shift, all five players on the ice began puckwatching, which ultimately led to Montreal’s top line — again, they’re one line team, and this is their one line — getting on the board.
And yes, the goal horn went off for Montreal.
We also should mention that Conor Garland scored a beautiful goal to give the Canucks their third goal of the game.
The Canucks headed into the third with a two-goal lead, and the Lotto Line was disbanded, unsurprisingly.
The game kept up its low-event pace, and Casey DeSmith certainly held up his end of the bargain in seeing the Canucks’ second straight victory through to the end. He was great tonight:
Nils Aman tipped home a Tyler Myers wrister after a key faceoff win from Teddy Blueger to give the Canucks their fourth goal of the game. Vasily Podkolzin picked up his first assist of his NHL season as well. 4-1 Canucks stood as your final.
With the win tonight, the Canucks move to 96 points in the standings, pushing their lead to three points over Winnipeg, Colorado, and Dallas.
What’s your instant reaction to tonight’s game? Let us know in the comments section below!

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