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Connor Bedard Praised By Fans in Debut as Blackhawks Win vs. Penguins

The future has arrived for the Chicago Blackhawks.

Chicago opened its season with a 4-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins in Tuesday’s showdown at PPG Paints Arena. All eyes were on Connor Bedard, and the rookie center delivered with the first of many points to come while helping lead the visitors to a comeback win.

The title of season-opening hero went elsewhere for the Blackhawks, though, as Jason Dickinson buried the game-winning goal in the final five minutes. It was the third of four straight unanswered goals for Chicago after it fell into an early hole.

While Dickinson, Ryan Donato, Cole Guttman and Nick Foligno scored the goals, the biggest storyline was the debut of Bedard.

It was fitting that the No. 1 overall pick of the 2023 NHL draft played his first game against Sidney Crosby. After all, past No. 1 picks such as Crosby and Connor McDavid represent the blueprint that Bedard is expected to follow as a franchise savior and generational talent who can lead Chicago back into Stanley Cup contention.

He looked the part of a building block by firing shots, creating offensive opportunities and even cashing with an assist, which drew plenty of praise from social media.

The symbolism was almost too obvious when Bedard and Crosby went head-to-head in the opening moment, but the veteran showed he wasn’t ready to pass the torch just yet by winning the faceoff.

That was far from his biggest contribution, as the future Hall of Famer extended Pittsburgh’s lead to 2-0 with a second-period goal after Bryan Rust started the scoring in the first.

Yet the 18-year-old had an answer with the first point of his career, which came late in the second period from an assist on Donato’s goal. The assist gave the visitors some much-needed momentum, which only increased as Guttman scored the equalizer before Dickinson and Foligno put the finishing touches on the win.

Chicago will be right back at it Wednesday when it takes on the Boston Bruins in the second of five straight road games to start the season, so building early momentum like this could help set the tone of Bedard’s rookie campaign.