Turns out, Artemi Panarin's hands can hurt his opponents in more than one way.
The Russian winger has become one of the world's best players despite never being drafted into the NHL, relying upon his skill and elusiveness to create space and put up monstrous point totals, as he's done in his two years with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Last night, though, he did something he's never done with the club: he dropped the gloves.
Charlie McAvoy – who was once described by a Boston sports radio caller as "absolutely jacked" and "a bonafide stallion" – gave Panarin a hard slash to the back of the leg, and Panarin absolutely wasn't having it. Despite giving up 40 points (Panarin listed at 168 on Boston's broadcast, McAvoy listed at 208), Panarin threw down and connected on a few punches.
Panarin got a rousing ovation after leaving the penalty box five minutes later. He's certainly not a player one would expect to drop the gloves, between his size, skill and low penalty minute totals (now just 21 PIMs this season and a career high of 32 as a rookie).
Interestingly enough, this isn't the first time Panarin has fought in the NHL, or the first time he's punched far above his weight class. Back in 2016, in his second year with the Blackhawks, he fought Scottie Upshall, a 200-pound winger with seven NHL fights to his name.
That fight looks to have gone a bit better for Panarin than last night's did, but he certainly made an impression either way.
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