Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Rinkside's NHL 3 Stars: Connor McDavid's hat trick highlights the night

Thursday reminded some just how special playing on home ice for a game is. 

The winner, as far as welcome-home celebrations go, has to be the Nashville Predators.

The Predators welcomed the six police officers who were first on scene for the Christmas Day bombing in downtown Nashville and then, there were catfish. 

It is tradition in Nashville to throw catfish on the ice, similar to the Red Wings and octopus, but this time there were only around 200 fans in the building. Somehow, with that small a number of fans, two catfish landed on the ice before the opening face-off. 

The first was your regular ole catfish. The second, however, was tossed onto the ice with a surgical mask. 

Think about the catfish-to-fan ratio? Unreal. Then, the Predators scored three unanswered goals to beat Columbus 3-1. 

First star

Connor McDavid, C, Edmonton Oilers

Connor McDavid is not human and he put on a show for all hockey fans on Thursday night when he scored his first hat trick of the season (and an assist). 

It gets better. 

He was clocked at roughly 22 mph, he had 21:37 minutes of ice time (26:24 on Wednesday) and he had 12 shot attempts (nine on goal). Plus, the Oilers out-shot the Canucks 20-7 at even strength with him on the ice. 

So, we will say it louder for the people in the back. Connor McDavid is not human!

Second star

Semyon Varlamov, G, New York Islanders

With a 24-save performance, Semyon Varlamov helped secure the first Opening Night shutout-win for the Islanders since 1976. 

The Islanders spoiled the debut of Rangers rookie Alexis Lafrenière by holding him to one shot on goal in 15:27 of ice time. 

Varlamov’s shutout was his first against the Rangers in 14 games. It was also his 28th career shutout.

Third star

Kirill Kaprizov, LW, Minnesota Wild

Scoring your first-career goal in overtime after collecting two assists in regulation definitely earns Kirill Kaprizov one of our three stars of the night. 

He absolutely proved that he belongs in the NHL and that he can hang with the best of the best. He was involved offensively throughout the entire contest and was hanging around in the neutral zone waiting to pounce.

The Wild scored four-consecutive goals from the third period on and come back from a 3-0 deficit to Los Angeles. 

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This article is about:
NHL Edmonton Oilers Minnesota Wild New York Islanders NHL Kirill Kaprizov Connor McDavid Semyon Varlamov
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