Blackhawks rookie Connor Bedard departs after big hit by Devils defenseman Brendan Smith

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Chicago Blackhawks left wing Nick Foligno (17) throws New Jersey Devils defenseman Brendan Smith (2) to the ice as Blackhawks center Cole Guttman (70) holds back Devils defenseman John Marino (6) during the first period of an NHL hockey game Friday, Jan. 5, 2024, in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

NEWARK, N.J. – Chicago Blackhawks rookie Connor Bedard departed Friday night's game against New Jersey after he was leveled by Devils defenseman Brendan Smith in the first period.

Bedard was selected by Chicago with the No. 1 overall pick in last year's draft. The 18-year-old center has 15 goals and 18 assists in 38 games.

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Bedard was hit by Smith after he carried the puck into the Blackhawks' offensive zone. Bedard then skated to the bench holding his face as Nick Foligno, Brett Seney and several teammates ignited a skirmish behind the Devils net.

Bedard went straight to the Chicago locker room and did not return.

After the All-Star departed, there was a series of skirmishes between the teams.

Blackhawks defenseman Jarred Tinordi had words with Smith as the teams were skating off the ice after the first.

Foligno and Smith had a prolonged bout early in the second period. Blackhawks defenseman Alex Vlasic also fought with Devils forward Nathan Bastian as part of a general on-ice fracas with most of the crowd at Prudential Center to its feet.

At one point, there were four Blackhawks and three Devils in their respective penalty boxes.



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