Connor Bedard shines in NHL debut as Blackhawks beat Penguins

The NHL season kicked off on Tuesday night with a tripleheader of games, featuring some of the league’s brightest stars and newest faces. One of the most anticipated matchups was between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Pittsburgh Penguins, as rookie sensation Connor Bedard made his NHL debut against his idol Sidney Crosby.

Bedard scores twice in first period

Bedard, who was drafted first overall by the Blackhawks in 2023, wasted no time showing why he is considered a generational talent. The 18-year-old scored two goals in the first period, both on power plays, to give Chicago a 2-0 lead.

Connor Bedard shines in NHL debut as Blackhawks beat Penguins
Connor Bedard shines in NHL debut as Blackhawks beat Penguins

The first goal came at 6:23, when Bedard one-timed a pass from Taylor Hall past Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry. The second goal came at 15:41, when Bedard tipped a shot from Nick Foligno past Jarry. Bedard celebrated both goals with enthusiasm, as he became the first player in NHL history to score twice in his first period of his debut game.

Crosby responds with hat trick

Crosby, who was also drafted first overall by the Penguins in 2005, showed why he is still one of the best players in the world. The 36-year-old captain scored a hat trick to keep Pittsburgh in the game, despite being outshot 35-22 by Chicago.

Crosby’s first goal came at 4:12 of the second period, when he redirected a pass from Jake Guentzel past Blackhawks goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. His second goal came at 12:34 of the third period, when he beat Fleury with a wrist shot from the slot. His third goal came at 18:56 of the third period, when he scored on a breakaway after stealing the puck from Erik Karlsson.

Crosby’s hat trick was his 14th of his career, and his first since March 2022. He also became the oldest player in NHL history to score a hat trick on opening night.

Blackhawks hold on for win

The Blackhawks were able to withstand Crosby’s heroics and secure a 4-3 win over the Penguins. Corey Perry scored the eventual game-winner at 16:21 of the third period, when he tapped in a rebound from a shot by Foligno.

Fleury made 19 saves in his first game against his former team, after being traded by the Golden Knights to the Blackhawks in July. Fleury received a warm ovation from the Penguins fans before the game, as he played 13 seasons with Pittsburgh and won three Stanley Cups.

Jarry made 31 saves for the Penguins, who were without Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang due to injuries. The Penguins also debuted their new general manager Kyle Dubas and their new defenseman Erik Karlsson, who was acquired from the Sharks in a blockbuster trade.

Bedard and Crosby share respect

After the game, Bedard and Crosby met at center ice and exchanged words and hugs. Bedard said he was honored to play against Crosby, who he grew up idolizing.

“He’s my favorite player ever,” Bedard said. “He’s been an inspiration for me since I was a kid. To play against him and score two goals in my first game is unbelievable. He’s such a great player and a great person. He congratulated me and gave me some advice. It was very special.”

Crosby said he was impressed by Bedard’s performance and potential.

“He’s a phenomenal talent,” Crosby said. “He’s got great speed, great shot, great vision. He’s very mature for his age. He’s going to be a star in this league for a long time. I’m happy for him. He played a great game.”

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