In his first NHL game, Connor Bedard lived up to expectations.
On Tuesday night, the Chicago newcomer showcased his impressive skating skills and contributed with an assist as his team successfully overcame the Pittsburgh Penguins, led by Sidney Crosby, with a final score of 4-2.
The 18-year-old Bedard, the top pick in the NHL draft, played over 21 minutes, often sharing the ice with Crosby, one of his idols. Bedard registered five of the 35 shots Chicago fired at Tristan Jarry as Chicago began a new era with an impressive victory over the veteran-laden Penguins.
Chicago trailed 2-0 when Crosby began his 19th season by scoring his 551st career goal, a shot into an open net off a pass from Jake Guentzel 11:56 into the second period.
In the second period, Chicago made a strong comeback with goals scored by Ryan Donato, who received a secondary assist from Bedard. Cole Guttman then tied the game in the middle of the third period, and Jason Dickinson gave Chicago the lead with only 4 minutes and 31 seconds remaining. With just 1 minute and 33 seconds left, Nick Foligno scored an empty-net goal, causing most of the sellout crowd to leave. This game was highly anticipated as one of the NHL’s brightest stars faced off against one of its newest teams.
Connor’s first NHL point 🎙️ <a href=”https://t.co/sv3lXwKEbQ”>pic.twitter.com/sv3lXwKEbQ</a>
Petr Mrazek stopped 38 shots for Chicago.
Crosby and Bryan Rust each found the back of the net for the Penguins, whose streak of 16 straight playoff appearances came to an end last year due in part to a mishap against the Blackhawks towards the end of the season. Pittsburgh made significant changes during the summer, one of which was acquiring Erik Karlsson, a defenseman who has won the Norris Trophy three times.
The NHL’s oldest team, unfortunately, struggled to create excitement with fireworks. Jarry successfully stopped 32 shots, but the Penguins allowed their lead to slip away in the final moments, a recurring issue from the previous season.
Similar to Crosby, Bedard appears comfortable with the attention, pressure, and expectations that will accompany him in his career. He playfully mentioned during the morning skate that he slept peacefully. He energetically joined fellow rookie Kevin Korchinski on the ice during warmups, taking advantage of the tradition for NHL debutants to have the rink to themselves momentarily.
Bedard was restless during the national anthem, his legs continuously moving, filled with anticipation for a moment he had longed for since his childhood in British Columbia, observing Crosby’s rise as a prominent figure in the NHL.
Referee Kelly Sutherland welcomed Bedard to the NHL right before the opening faceoff. Sutherland then dropped the puck between two generational talents and the jitters vanished.
Referee Kelly Sutherland welcomes Crosby to the game and Bedard to the NHL… <a href=”https://twitter.com/penguins?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@penguins</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/NHLBlackhawks?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@NHLBlackhawks</a> <a href=”https://t.co/Yy3innv8OF”>pic.twitter.com/Yy3innv8OF</a>
Bedard took his first shot of his career against Chicago on the power play after just over six minutes. He continued to shoot at Jarry, always in motion with his No. 98 jersey. He fearlessly threw himself into small areas, whether it was in front of the net or in the corners.
Guttman then tied it just past the midway point of the third period with a laser from the slot and Dickinson put Chicago in front to offer a glimpse of the team it hopes it can become on a regular basis, with Bedard at the centre of it all.
Earlier, the Tampa Bay Lightning dropped the puck on their season with a 5-3 win over the Nashville Predators.
Later on Tuesday, the Vegas Golden Knights, who are the current champions, planned to reveal their Stanley Cup banner when they played against the Seattle Kraken in their first home game of the season.