Chicago Blackhawks Star Rookie Connor Bedard Was in Top Form in Return From Injury

How did Connor Bedard play in his return to the lineup? The first period was not so great. He was good the rest of it.
Pittsburgh Penguins v Chicago Blackhawks
Pittsburgh Penguins v Chicago Blackhawks / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

The moment was set for No. 98's much-anticipated return from a fractured jaw. A bubbled Connor Bedard set up for the game's opening face-off across from his childhood hero, Sidney Crosby. Would we get a repeat of the season opener? A victory after seven consecutive losses?

Crosby snapped the draw back, and 15 seconds later he scored on a nifty deflection. Bedard and his line mates, Nick Foligno and Philipp Kurashev, were called to the bench. Not the start Bedard or the Blackhawks were looking for. Unfortunately, the rest of period wasn't much better for the 18-year-old star.

Midway through the first, Bedard entered the Penguins zone and attempted to feather a saucer pass cross-ice. Drew O'Connor knocked down the puck, took an unfortunate bounce off Kurashev's outstretched stick, and Reilly Smith placed a perfect backhand over Arvid Söderblom's glove. Bedard took a couple of hits throughout the period but also dished out a few of his own, giving Hawks fans some excitement and proof his jaw is fully recovered.

The second and third periods were when Bedard and his linemates found their groove, playing with pace, and catching Pittsburgh in transition. Midway through the second, Bedard had a wrist shot blocked, but Kevin Korchinski made an excellent play keeping the puck in the zone. Bedard retrieved the puck on a two-on-one with Kurashev. Alex Nedeljkovic, fearful of Bedard's otherworldly release, cheated to his short side. Bedard recognized this and dished a perfect saucer pass which Kurashev buried top-shelf.

The Calder favorite showed his defensive acumen later in the second period, intercepting a pass to prevent a sure breakaway for a streaking Colin White fresh out of the penalty box. In the third, Bedard was robbed by Nedeljkovic following a deft feed from Kurashev. He also had a pair of Savardian spin-o-rama passes, one each to Foligno and Kurashev.

Connor Bedard
Michael Reaves/GettyImages

Overall, after a tough first period, Bedard looked hungry and dangerous for the majority of his shifts -- simply put, was the same player he was before his injury. He couldn't spark a comeback, but he regained his chemistry with Foligno and Kurashev, had a couple of great scoring chances, and got himself on the scoresheet. Not a bad return for the kid after a six-week layoff.