Bedard has assist in NHL debut Blackhawks rally past Penguins
Connor Bedard had an assist in his NHL debut, and the Chicago Blackhawks came back from down two goals to defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-2 at PPG Paints Arena on Tuesday.
Bedard, selected No. 1 in the 2023 NHL Draft, led Chicago with five shots on goal in 21:29 of ice time and got his first point with a secondary assist on a goal from Ryan Donato late in the second period of the season opener for each team.
“I think I’m always confident in myself,” the 18-year-old said. “There’s going to be tough games. It’s obviously the best players in the world, best League in the world. I think, for me, it’s just trying to get better every shift, every game.”
Jason Dickinson scored the go-ahead goal at 15:29 of the third for the Blackhawks after Cole Guttman tied it midway through the period. Nick Foligno had a goal and an assist, Corey Perry had two assists, and Petr Mrazek made 38 saves.
Sidney Crosby and Bryan Rust scored, and Tristan Jarry made 32 saves for the Penguins.
“I’d like to believe we’re a better team than what we showed tonight,” Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan said. “It was a loose game. It was a high-event game on both sides. That’s not the type of game that’s conducive to winning.”
Erik Karlsson had two shots on goal in his first game for the Penguins after being acquired from the San Jose Sharks in a three-team trade on Aug. 6.
“The journey has just begun,” Karlsson said. “It’s unfortunate we couldn’t win today when I felt this was a winnable game. … We had energy out there. Now we just have to find a way to utilize that energy a little bit better at times.”
Donato’s goal cut the Penguins’ lead to 2-1 at 15:37 of the second. After receiving a pass from Bedard, Alex Vlasic sent a wrist shot on Jarry for a rebound Donato cleaned up in the crease.
“I was the least important guy on the goal, but obviously feels nice to get one there,” Bedard said.
Guttman then scored on a wrist shot from the inside of the right circle, tying it 2-2 at 10:05 of the third.
Dickinson dove at a pass from Perry for a shot that put Chicago ahead 3-2 before Foligno scored an empty-net goal for the 4-2 final at 18:33.
“We worked the whole game,” Blackhawks coach Luke Richardson said. “I thought we had great scoring chances in all three periods. … We got some key execution in the third period, especially. I thought we played excellent after that. We played simple, fast.”
Rust put Pittsburgh ahead 1-0 at 7:04 of the first period, deflecting a shot from Kris Letang at the right of the net. The goal was initially waved off before a review determined the puck ricocheted out after hitting inside the top of the net.
Crosby made it 2-0 at 11:56 of the second period. Jake Guentzel sent a pass through the slot to the bottom of the left face-off circle, setting up Crosby for a wrist shot. The goal was confirmed by video review after Chicago challenged for offside.
“It’s Game 1, so you have to learn,” Crosby said. “It’s better when you can learn when you’ve won. … It’s just who can get to their game a little bit better. Obviously, they were able to get a couple there in the third.”
Bedard was 2-for-13 on face-offs. … Bedard (18 years, 85 days) is the fifth-youngest active player to have a point in his NHL debut, behind Florida Panthers forward Aleksander Barkov (18 years, 31 days on Oct. 3, 2013), Colorado Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon (18 years, 31 days on Oct. 2, 2013), Crosby (18 years, 59 days on Oct. 5, 2005) and Edmonton Oilers forward Evander Kane (18 years, 62 days on Oct. 3, 2009). … Evgeni Malkin, Crosby and Letang began their 18th season together, becoming the longest-tenured trio of teammates in the history of major North American professional sports. They broke a tie with Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada, who were teammates with the New York Yankees of Major League Baseball for 17 seasons from 1995-2011. … Blackhawks defenseman Kevin Korchinski had one shot on goal in 19:19 of ice time during his NHL debut. … Guentzel, a game-time decision, had four shots on goal in 19:21. He was originally expected to miss at least five games to start the regular season after having right ankle surgery on Aug. 2.