Zadorov scores 2, lifts Canucks to 4-1 win over struggling Canadiens


Vancouver remains atop NHL’s Western Conference standings
Depth scoring led the Vancouver Canucks to a decisive 4-1 victory over the struggling Montreal Canadiens on Thursday.
Defenceman Nikita Zadorov scored twice, forwards Conor Garland and Nils Aman each added a goal and Ilya Mikheyev contributed a pair of assists for the Canucks (44-18-8).
Juraj Slafkovsky replied for the visiting Canadiens (25-32-12), who dropped their fourth game in a row.
Canucks goalie Casey DeSmith made 16 saves and improved to 10-5-6 on the season while Sam Montembeault stopped 21-of-25 shots for the Canadiens.
Vancouver remains atop the Western Conference standings, three points up on the Winnipeg Jets, Colorado Avalanche and Dallas Stars.
“Just felt great. My teammates made a couple good passes for me to capitalize on a couple shots.”
Nikita Zadorov on ice-level with @CanucksReporter after earning first star honours! 🌟 — Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) March 22, 2024
The Canucks smothered the Habs in the final frame Thursday, allowing just three shots across the period.
Aman buried his first goal in 24 games at the 11:44 mark of the third, deflecting in Tyler Myers’ shot to give the Canucks a 4-1 advantage. The Swedish centre last scored on Dec. 23.
Slafkovsky cut the visitor’s deficit to 3-1 late in the second. Cole Caufield sent a wrist shot flying from inside the blue line and Slafkovsky tipped it in for his 15th of the campaign at the 19:07 mark.
The goal drew competing chants of “Go Habs Go!” and “Go Canucks Go!” from the split crowd.
The Canucks had gone up 3-0 less than a minute earlier.
Teddy Blueger picked off a bobbled Montreal pass in Vancouver territory and sent a pass to Garland as he sped through the neutral zone. Garland beat Canadiens defenceman Arber Xhekaj down the ice and pinged a shot in off the crossbar for his 15th goal of the season.
Montreal had ample opportunity to get on the board earlier in the second, with three power plays across the period. Caufield came within inches of striking on the man advantage midway through the frame when he rang a shot off the post.
The Canucks and Habs both went 0 for 3 on the power play Thursday.
Vancouver took a two-goal lead late in the first off an odd-man rush.
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Sam Lafferty sliced a crisp pass to Zadorov in the high slot and the hulking defenceman unleashed a rocket, beating Montembeault blocker side for his second of the night with 26.6 seconds left in the opening frame.
The goal came moments after Canucks defenceman Noah Juulsen sent Brendan Gallagher into the end boards with a hit that left the Canadiens winger hobbling to the bench.
Zadorov opened the scoring 15:38 in with a long shot over Montembeault’s glove as Lafferty and Habs defenceman David Savard battled for space directly in front of the net.
Tanner Pearson returned to Montreal’s lineup after being healthy scratched on Tuesday. He slotted in for Joshua Roy, who suffered an upper-body injury in the Canadiens’ overtime loss to the Oilers and is expected to be out four to six weeks. Juulsen replaced Ian Cole on Vancouver’s blue line. Canucks head coach Rick Tocchet said earlier Thursday that Cole is “banged up” and could use some time to get healthy.
A championship trophy was in the building Thursday night. Montreal Alouettes wide receiver Tyson Philpot, defensive end Brock Gowanlock and receivers coach Mike Lionello — who all hail from B.C. — brought the Grey Cup to the game and received cheers when they hoisted it on the big screen, all clad in Canucks jerseys. The Als won the CFL’s top prize in dramatic fashion in November after Philpot reeled in a touchdown pass with 15 seconds left on the clock.
Canucks: Host the Calgary Flames on Saturday.
Canadiens: Continue a five-game road swing Sunday against the Kraken in Seattle.
Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press


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