Panarin’s Hands: Gordie Howe hat trick helps Blackhawks beat Blues

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Seeing Scottie Upshall drop the gloves is a fairly rare thing, yet it happens. Artemi Panarin, though? Few saw that coming.

Then again, maybe the suddenness of it all ended up being the theme for Panarin’s night.

Just like that, Panarin fought with Upshall. Then, just like that, Panarin came out of the penalty box for his five-minute major and scored the 2-1 overtime-winner for the Chicago Blackhawks against the St. Louis Blues.

This victory gives the Blackhawks seven consecutive wins and widens their lead for first in the Central Division over the Blues. For all the worries about Chicago losing a step this season, it must be noted that they’re currently the top-ranked team in the West with 21 points. Only the Montreal Canadiens have more overall with 23.

Consider the Russian winger one of the most unexpected generators of a Gordie Howe hat trick in recent memory, as he assisted on Chicago’s other tally of the night, giving him the requisite fight, goal and helper.

And, boy, it was a pretty legit battle:

The phrase “playoff atmosphere in November” was thrown around often to describe the high-quality, high-tension edition of Wednesday Night Rivalry.

If parallels really do carry over between this very young point of the 2016-17 season and the ensuing playoffs, then you might say that Panarin will be quite the breadwinner for the Blackhawks.

(Sorry.)

More: Not all good news for the Blackhawks – Artem Anisimov left the game with an injury.

Also, maybe we should have seen this coming.