Nikita Zadorov crushes Jayce Hawryluk with massive hit, challenges entire Panthers bench to fight
Zadorov was a menace but Florida got the last laugh
The big Colorado Avalanche defenseman is an imposing presence at 6-foot-6, 235 pounds and he's known for throwing that size around pretty effectively. The big Russian used it to his advantage during the Avs' matchup against the Panthers, wreaking plenty of havoc in the process.
The biggest victim of Zadorov's destruction was Florida forward Jayce Hawryluk, who may have bit off more than he could chew by poking and prodding the Avs' defenseman. After Zadorov put Hawryluk in a headlock during a scrum, the much-smaller (5-foot-11, 196 pounds) Panthers forward had some choice words for the big man.
Zadorov later answered that jawing by absolutely destroying Hawryluk with one of the biggest hits we've seen this NHL season.
During the third period, Hawryluk lunged in an attempt to clear a rolling puck out of the Panthers' defensive zone. Though he did manage to get his stick on the puck and clear the zone, he paid a huge price. Zadorov, who was patrolling near the blue line, unloaded on an exposed Hawryluk a split second after the clear, sending Hawryluk violently into the boards.
Not surprisingly, Hawryluk was visibly shaken up and exited the game in the aftermath of the collision. He didn't return. The Panthers' bench wasn't happy with the hit and the fact that it went unpenalized, though it didn't appear to be particularly illegal or dirty. Hawryluk put himself in a vulnerable position by lunging for the puck while Zadorov approached and the principle point of contact appeared to be Hawryluk's shoulder.
Regardless, the Panthers still took Zadorov's number and brought a little extra nasty the rest of the way. Later in the third, Florida winger Dryden Hunt checked Zadorov along the benches and got into some extracurriculars. Zadorov gave him a light cross-check, Hunt responded with a slash and Zadorov then returned the favor.
That exchange then reached a boiling point with Zadorov challenging Hunt and leaving him almost no choice but to drop the gloves. However, Zadorov didn't seem satisfied with the way that fight played out and, in its wake, he challenged the Panthers' entire bench for his pound of flesh.
You can argue the Panthers got the last laugh, however, as that sequence landed Zadorov with a misconduct (as well as roughing and slashing minors), taking him off the ice for the remainder of the game. Florida managed to climb back from a late deficit to force overtime and win it in sudden death.
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