Canadiens fans were treated to quite the fight during Thursday’s game at the Bell Centre versus the Arizona Coyotes.
Former Costco employee Arber Xhekaj squared up with Zack Kassian, and the result was nothing short of a dominant display by the Canadiens defenceman.
It was Xhekaj’s first official regular season fight in the NHL and Kassian‘s 40th, but the fight didn’t last long, with Xhekaj landing a couple of clean right hooks right off the bat. Kassian quickly reacted to the unreasonable amount of pain sent his way, but couldn’t escape the Xhekaj barrage, which then shifted to body shots.
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Kassian left the ice following the fight, seemingly nursing a hand injury, whereas Xhekaj was no worse for wear and served his 5-minute fighting penalty.
There’s a little history between Kassian and the Canadiens. He was briefly part of the organization but was traded to the Edmonton Oilers before he had an opportunity to lace up his skates at the Bell Centre.
It’s also worth noting he took a run at Canadiens goaltender Samuel Montembeault last season. No Canadiens player reacted, inciting ire among fans. Coincidentally, or not, almost every player on the ice for that play no longer plays for the team. Jeff Petry, in particular, received a heavy dose of criticism for his lack of pushback following the dirty play.
Xhekaj is starting to make quite a name for himself in the NHL. He’s already gained the everlasting attention of the entire Ottawa Senators organization when he knocked out prospect Zach Massicotte during the Prospect Challenge Tournament in Buffalo.
At 6’4″, 240lbs, Xhekaj isn’t the biggest player in the National Hockey League, but he may very well be on his way to becoming the toughest, especially if he continues to ragdoll NHL veterans as he did with Kassian.