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Connor Bedard scores first goal but Blackhawks lose to Bruins

BOSTON — Connor Bedard’s first NHL goal didn’t showcase his one-of-a-kind release or incredible wrist strength or perfect accuracy, as one would have guessed.

In fact, the puck never even left his stick until it crossed the goal line.

But Bedard’s slick wraparound five minutes into the first period Wednesday, opening his professional account in the Blackhawks’ 3-1 loss to the Bruins, was certainly impressive nonetheless.

Leading up to it, he seamlessly gathered an off-the-mark pass along the blue line by going skate to stick, executed a no-look give-and-go sequence with Ryan Donato, fired a shot on goal from a tight angle and chased the puck down behind the net. And then — after all that — he pulled off a move that relatively few NHL forwards can pull off with the right speed and timing.

The 18-year-old phenom just keeps unveiling new dimensions to his game.

With the goal, Bedard came the first No. 1 pick to record a point in each of his first two games since Nathan MacKinnon in 2013. Neither Connor McDavid in 2015, Auston Matthews in 2016 nor Jack Hughes in 2019 accomplished that feat.

The funny aspect is Bedard felt as if he was enduring a scoring drought entering Wednesday, given his only goal in five games (four preseason and Tuesday’s opener) since the rookie tournament had been an empty-netter.

“Of course I’m having a tough time putting it in the net these past five games, but hopefully that comes,” he had said after Tuesday’s game. “For me, it’s [about] just trying to create, and if I’m creating, you feel good. But of course you want to put it in.”

As it turned out, it took only two shifts for him to do exactly that.

The issue for the Hawks, however, is how singularly reliant upon Bedard they were to generate offense Wednesday. That’s not a great recipe in hockey, where even the best players spend nearly two-thirds of the game on the bench.

At times, the Hawks struggled to get out of their defensive zone, particularly during the second period when the Bruins really exerted control.

And in the offensive zone, Lukas Reichel — whom the Hawks also need and expect to take a big step forward this season, regardless of Bedard’s spotlight-grabbing highlights — hasn’t found his stride yet.

To be fair, the Hawks’ depth forward lines did contribute quite a bit Tuesday, and Taylor Hall’s mid-game injury Wednesday — which bumped Andreas Athanasiou up to the first line, costing Cole Guttman and Boris Katchouk a regular linemate — did disrupt things. And the Bruins are a tough matchup for anybody, even without retired captain Patrice Bergeron; the Hawks were embarrassed 6-1 in last year’s visit to TD Garden.

But this is hardly a surprising development for a Hawks team that, last season without Bedard, scored the fewest five-on-five goals (and created the fewest five-on-five scoring chances) in the league. That means it’ll likely be a recurring problem again this season.

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