pittsburgh—— Connor Bedard did not disappoint in his NHL debut.
The Chicago Blackhawks rookie had an assist and an occasional assist as the Chicago Blackhawks defeated Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-2 on Tuesday night. He also dazzled with his skating performance.
The 18-year-old Bedard, the No. 1 pick in the NHL draft, played more than 21 minutes and often competed with one of his idols, Crosby. Bedard recorded five of Chicago’s 35 shots on Tristan Jarry and the Blackhawks started a new era with an impressive win over the veteran Penguins.
Trailing 2-0 as Chicago began his 19th season, Crosby scored his 551st career goal, Jake Guentzel, at 11:56 of the second period. Pass the ball and shoot it into the empty net.
The Blackhawks fought back in the second period with a goal from Ryan Donato and a second assist from Bedard. Cole Guttman tied the game midway through the third period and Jason Dickinson gave Chicago the lead with 4:31 left. Nick Foligno’s empty-netter with 1:33 left drew the bulk of the crowd that came to watch one of the NHL’s brightest stars take on one of its rising stars.
Petr Mrazek stopped 38 shots for the Blackhawks.
Crosby and Brian Rust scored for the Penguins, whose streak of 16 consecutive playoff appearances ended last spring in part with a late-season loss to the Blackhawks. Pittsburgh restructured over the summer, including adding three-time Norris Trophy winning guard Erik Karlsson.
However, for the NHL’s oldest team, fireworks are hard to come by. Jarry made 32 saves, but the Penguins ended up blowing a lead, a problem that plagued them at times last season.
Bedard has been expected to join the NHL for years, as when the Penguins drafted Crosby with the No. 1 pick in 2005, when Bedard was just 13 days old. His arrival in Chicago provides a much-needed jolt to a struggling franchise that has missed the season in five of the last six seasons as the dynasty that won three Stanley Cups from 2010-15 faded. There will definitely be some growing pains for teams in the postseason. .
Like Crosby, Bedard appears to be at ease with the attention, pressure and expectations that have accompanied him throughout his career. He joked during his morning skate that he slept “like a baby.” During warmups, he hit the ice with Blackhawks rookie Kevin Korchinski, and the two teenagers briefly had the ice to themselves, as is tradition for players making their NHL debut.
Bedard fidgeted during the national anthem, his legs swinging, longing for this moment. It was a talent he grew up with in British Columbia, Canada, watching Crosby become one of the cornerstones of the NHL. He had been dreaming of this moment.
Referee Kelly Sutherland welcomed Bader to the NHL before the opening game. Sutherland then threw the puck between two generations of talent and the nerves disappeared.
Bedard took just over six minutes to hit his first career shot on Chicago’s power play. He continued to fire at Jarry, his 98 gun kept moving. He’s not afraid to throw his 5-foot-10, 185-pound frame into tight spaces, whether it’s in front of the net or in the corner.
Bedard seemed to surprise Jarry with a shot from the short side early in the second period and then fired a backhand pass to Alex Vlasic, who followed with a shot from close range for a career win. The first point of his career. Donato’s rebound eventually tied the Blackhawks to 2-1.
Gettleman then tied the game with a laser shot midway through the third quarter, Dickinson put the Blackhawks in front and gave a glimpse of what Chicago hopes it can become as a regular team, and Bedard was on the ball The center of the team.
Blackhawks: Travel to Boston on Wednesday.
Penguins: Visit longtime Metropolitan Division rival Washington on Friday.