Bedard: ‘Really special’ NHL debut made sweeter with win over Penguins

Bedard: 'Really special' NHL debut made sweeter with win over Penguins

Connor Bedard may have recorded his first-ever NHL point Tuesday night, but it’s the Chicago Blackhawks’ 4-2 comeback win over the Pittsburgh Penguins that he’ll recall the most about his big-league debut.

“I think you remember (your debut) with a little better taste in your mouth when you win,” he said postgame, according to the Chicago Sun-Times’ Ben Pope.

He added: “It was really cool, really special, (and I was) trying to take it in. But in the end, you’re focused on the hockey game. There’s nerves, of course. It’s a pretty big moment in your life. But (I was) just trying to settle in and focus on that.”

The Blackhawks trailed the Penguins 2-0 around the midway mark of the second period, but they stormed back with four unanswered goals. Bedard helped turn the tide with a secondary assist on Ryan Donato‘s tally that got Chicago on the board:

it’s not delivery, it’s Donato ‼️🤌 pic.twitter.com/A83ysO8C1l

— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) October 11, 2023

Jason Dickinson netted the eventual game-winner in the final frame, while goaltender Petr Mrazek hung tough with 38 saves on 40 shots.

“I think it just shows kind of our mindset,” Bedard told ESPN’s Emily Kaplan about his team’s effort. “I think we’ve seen that a lot throughout camp. Guys want to win so bad, and they’re so focused on improving every day. That was kind of what we were thinking going into every period, just get a little bit better. We played great, every line contributed. It was a lot of fun.”

Bedard’s first NHL game was filled with more than a few pinch-me moments, including an opening faceoff against Sidney Crosby. Bedard explained what he was thinking in that instant.

“Try to win it, and I failed miserably, but it was pretty cool,” he said. “Obviously, a childhood hero.”

Although Bedard won just two of his 13 draws, he recorded a team-high five shots and 11 shot attempts while leading all Blackhawks forwards with 21:29 minutes of ice time. His performance impressed head coach Luke Richardson.

“He’s all in on the team, but he has obviously shown he’s not afraid to use his talents when the other team is vulnerable,” Richardson said, per Pope. “There was maybe only once or twice in the whole game where he tried to do everything by himself. … Other than that, he was really carrying the play.”

With his debut now in the books, Bedard is left with a bittersweet feeling.

“It’s a moment you think of all your life, and now it’s already done,” he said, according to The Athletic’s Mark Lazerus. “That part’s kinda sad.”

The 2023 first overall pick won’t have to wait very long for his next game. The Blackhawks will take on the Bruins in Boston on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. ET.

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