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NHL Rink Wrap: Kodak Black sure was at Panthers game; Makar does it again

NHL Rink Wrap: Kodak Black sure was at Panthers game; Makar does it again

DENVER, COLORADO - JANUARY 10: Cale Makar #8 of the Colorado Avalanche skates prior to the game against the Seattle Kraken at Ball Arena on January 10, 2022 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)

NHLI via Getty Images

Top player from Tuesday in the NHL

Nikita Kucherov, Lightning

Rust? Nikita Kucherov laughs at talk of rust.

On Jan. 6, Kucherov shrugged off being out since Oct. 16, generating two pretty assists. Kucherov topped that on Tuesday, earning NHL player of the night with a hat trick.

Looking at his career, it’s somewhat surprising that this marks merely the fourth hat trick by Kucherov. He last generated one against the Bruins in 2017. That leaves Kucherov with five points in three games back from injury, and nine points in six games this season.

Now, to be fair, Kucherov did acknowledge some rust (despite the hat trick). Or at least he’s polite enough to pretend.

(On-ice) highlights from NHL games on Tuesday

Not surprisingly, there were a lot of Cale Makar/sexy jokes around the NHL on Tuesday.

During that same Avalanche - Predators game, Matt Duchene scored a nice OT game-winner. The Predators are truly hot, as they beat the also-hot Avs to extend their winning streak to five games. Impressive.

Watch Nikita Kucherov collect that hat trick:

Read more about a successful Evgeni Malkin return in the takeaways, but here’s his first of two goals from that season debut:

Tuesday NHL takeaways (mostly not about Kodak Black and the Panthers)

NHL news: Bruins sign Rask, Evander Kane pursuit heats up

Let’s catch up on a few bits of NHL news from Tuesday:

Kodak Black sure did attend a Florida Panthers game

OK, we’re not going to post the notorious Twitter video of Kodak Black um, doing something at a Florida Panthers game. It’s here if you’re not worried about something possibly NSFW.

Did Kodak Black really do that at a Panthers game, or did it just look like that? Intrepid reporters such as George Richards of Florida Hockey Now attempted to unravel that mystery.

Whatever actually happened, what Kodak Black may or may not have done at a Panthers game was the talk of the (Twitter) town. The Miami Herald’s David Wilson captured the highs and lows of this very unusual, um, celebrity encounter:

The Panthers made a point to show Kodak Black on the big screen several times during the first few periods and the NHL even tweeted about his presence at the arena.

They did not show him again.

Oh yeah, and the very, very good Panthers beat improving Canucks 5-2. Let’s be honest, though; even Roberto Luongo wasn’t tweeting about that.

Here’s a more wholesome image of Kodak Black at the Panthers game, via Getty Images:

Vancouver Canucks v Florida Panthers

SUNRISE, FL - JANUARY 11: Rapper Kodak Black and fiancé Mellow Rackz watch the Florida Panthers play the Vancouver Canucks at the FLA Live Arena on January 11, 2022 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

Getty Images

Very successful Penguins return for Malkin

Remember that bit about Nikita Kucherov laughing off rust? Evgeni Malkin reacted in a similar way.

Early in the second period, Malkin scored what would end up being the game-winner on the power play. Overall, Malkin celebrated his return to the Penguins’ lineup with two goals and an assist.

As much as there’s a feeling of “What if?” when it comes to Malkin injuries (and to an extent, the Penguins’ core) ...

... The larger message might be to soak this in. He remains a special player.

Wednesday’s big story

Will Oilers, someone else sign Evander Kane?

Unless the NHL reacts in an especially noteworthy way to Kodak Black enjoying the Panthers game, the story to watch on Wednesday is whether the Oilers (or some other NHL team) signs Evander Kane.

As scheduled, the three Wednesday NHL games don’t seem especially competitive. Granted, the Canadiens would love to spoil things (even slightly) for the Bruins, but the most interesting stuff seems like it may happen off the ice.

At least on paper. Sometimes the most exciting games are the ones that carry low expectations.

NHL scores from Tuesday

Lightning 6, Sabres 1
Panthers 5, Canucks 2
Blackhawks 4, Blue Jackets 2
Predators 5, Avalanche 4 (OT)
Maple Leafs 4, Golden Knights 3 (SO)
Penguins 4, Ducks 1
Sharks 3, Red Wings 2 (OT)

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.