"I blacked out": Zadorov's hat trick was sweet end to bitter Flames season

Apr 13 2023, 2:37 pm

After being eliminated from the NHL playoffs with a shootout loss against the Nashville Predators earlier this week, it was not easy for the Calgary Flames to finish their season on a high note. Thanks to Nikita Zadorov, they were able to do just that.

On Thursday, the Russian defenceman scored all three of the Flames’ goals, recording his first career hat trick in a 3-1 win over the San Jose Sharks at home in the Saddledome.

It also happened to be the first hat trick by anyone on the team this year.

“Definitely was hard to find emotions to play that game, for sure,” Zadorov said to reporters after the game. “It’s normal when you miss the playoffs, the last game, it sucks, it wasn’t what we were expecting.”

The big blueliner’s third goal of the night was an empty netter he launched from Calgary’s defensive zone.

“I blacked out, not gonna lie,” said Zadorov on the moment before the puck crossed the goal line. “[Rasmus Andersson] told me on the bench just go for it, so first time I hit the D-man and the second time just closed my eyes, feel where the net was, got a lucky bounce. It was nice fade six-iron there. It worked.”

Zadorov wasn’t the only feel-good story of the night. Rookie goalie Dustin Wolf made his debut between the pipes.

The 21-year-old, who was the Flames’ seventh-round pick in 2019, stopped 23 out of 24 shots. Wolf was called up from the Calgary Wranglers, the Flames’ AHL affiliate, after earning an impressive league-leading 41 wins.

Zadorov agrees that his teammate is ready to make the push to the big league, telling The Athletic’s Julian McKenzie that the organization will have to make some tough choices about who gets to be the starter for years to come.

“We have two great goalies in here and I think they play outstanding. (Markstrom)’s one of the best goalies in the world. (Vladar)’s a rising star as well,” Zadorov said. “I think this organization is going to have to make some decision. There’s three goalies that can play all the time.”

But like all questions regarding the Flames, that too will have to wait until next season.

Al SciolaAl Sciola

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