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Connor Bedard goes on IR after suffering a fractured jaw in Chicago Blackhawks’ 4-2 loss: ‘Everybody saw it, it’s dirty’

NEWARK, N.J. — Rookie Connor Bedard suffered a fractured jaw in the first period of the Chicago Blackhawks’ 4-2 loss to the New Jersey Devils on Friday.

The team announced before practice Saturday that they placed Bedard on injured reserve. His linemate Nick Foligno also was placed on IR with a fractured left finger.

With 9 minutes, 18 seconds left in the period, with the Hawks on their first power play, Bedard was carrying the puck into the zone when Brendan Smith slammed into him , and the center spun to the ice. Bedard skated off holding his glove to his face and headed into the tunnel after playing 3 minutes, 5 seconds.

“Everybody saw it, it’s dirty,” Hawks left wing Boris Katchouk said of the hit. “It think that’s dirty.”

Coach Luke Richardson said he only got a chance to see video a couple of times from the bench but didn’t see wrongdoing by Smith.

“I don’t know if it was dirty,” Richardson said. “I think Connor was reaching for a puck and didn’t see him because he was behind one of their players. I don’t think (Smith) stepped up on him. I just think he kind of stopped and Connor ran headfirst right into him.

“I don’t think it was intent to hit or anything, I think he was just playing hard on the blue line and trying to keep the puck out on the penalty kill.”

At the beginning of the second period, the team issued a medical update on social media saying Bedard would miss the remainder of the game.

“He’s a huge, huge part of this team, so it’s sad to see,” Katchouk said.

When asked for an update after the game, Richardson replied: “Just didn’t return to the game. We’re going to get everybody home and checked out at home.”

After Bedard got hit, Foligno charged at Smith by the Devils’ net and wrestled him to the ice. A scrum ensued by the end wall as Foligno pinned Smith.

Smith was given a roughing penalty while Foligno was tagged with a double-minor for roughing.

It was already a chippy , but Smith’s hit on Bedard was like tossing a match into a tinderbox. The game was interrupted several times by spontaneous skirmishes.

During one wild stretch in the second period, the Hawks’ Alex Vlasic and Devils’ Nathan Bastian grabbed sweaters as they tussled along the boards. Both were handed fighting majors, and Vlasic was tagged with an instigator penalty.

Foligno and Smith squared off again, this time starting at center ice, and they exchanged a few punches (most from Foligno) during a tango that lasted almost a minute and a half. But Foligno left with an undisclosed injury.

Even though it proved costly for Foligno, the Hawks applauded him avenging Bedard.

“That’s the culture we want to build here,” defenseman Jarred Tinordi said. “Nick drives the ship in here. That was great to see. I think we needed that.”

Added Katchouk: “I think there’s a lot of guys that would’ve done it. Fliggy’s a leader on this team for a reason. He stepped up for us”

A short time later after Foligno’s fight, former Devil Brett Seney came sprinting up to check Jack Hughes by the blue line, but Hughes hip-checked him and sent him sprawling to ice instead. To add insult to injury, Seney was slapped with a cross-checking penalty.

Referees handed out 14 penalties in the second period alone.

“We had a couple good hits on their good players, and that’s what you have to do in the NHL,” Richardson said. “You can’t let the best players skate around.

“It just went back and forth and got heated, and both teams just reacted and responded to that.”

The friction had somewhat dissipated by the third, but Kevin Bahl staggered MacKenzie Entwistle with a hard shot and Connor Murphy was called for roughing Jesper Bratt.

Meanwhile, a game broke out at the hockey fight.

Jason Dickinson scored the game’s opening goal, a first-period wrister, after Entwistle screened goalie Vitek Vanecek.

In the second, Alexander Holtz answered for the Devils with a backdoor goal against Arvid Söderblom, but Katchouk reclaimed the lead for the Hawks with his first short-handed goal of the season.

“Haven’t scored in a bit in this league and it feels good to score again,” he said.

Simon Nemec knotted it up again with a third-period blast, and the Devils added Michael McLeod’s one-timer from the crease and Tyler Toffoli’s empty-netter for the final margin.

“That was kind of a playoff atmosphere out there tonight, and we’ve got to learn how to win those games,” Tinordi said.

Added Richardson: “They just found a few cracks in the third period. We really didn’t play poorly, we just probably ran out of a little bit of steam compared to a full lineup on the other side.”

And that strikes at the heart of the Hawk’s real problem, regardless of the scoreboard.

Bedard has accounted for nearly 17% of the Hawks’ goals, and the Hawks have staked their future on the development of the freshly minted NHL All-Star.

The Hawks could feel the pinch on the ice, already down several starters.

Bedard and Foligno became the seventh and eighth forwards, respectfully, who are out of commission to go along with defenseman Seth Jones.

“I don’t believe in curses but that’s just the way we’re going right now,” Tinordi said with a chuckle. “Whoever comes into the locker room next we’ve just got to get them in with the group and roll with it.

“We have more games to play. You can’t sit here and dwell on it. You can’t sit here and say, ‘Poor me, poor this, poor that.’ This is the NHL. We have a job to do, we have to go out there and do it.”