Canada opens hockey worlds with 6-1 win over Latvia
PRAGUE (AP) Canada showed its attacking power with a 6-1 victory over Latvia on Friday in the first game of the world hockey championship, while the United States beat 2014 runner-up Finland 5-1.
Defending champion Russia opened with a 6-2 victory over Norway, and Sweden beat host Czech Republic 6-5 in a shootout.
Dallas Stars forward Jason Spezza led the Canadians with two goals and an assist in the Group A match in Prague.
''We're so new to each other, we're trying to build chemistry,'' Spezza said. ''We talked every turn we came to the bench, we tried to figure out our systems, we tried to figure out the big ice, to use these games as building blocks for your team. Even if we got up early, we stuck to our plan and got better as the game went on.''
Arizona Coyotes goalie Mike Smith made 16 saves as Canada outshot Latvia 42-17.
Nathan MacKinnon, Matt Duchene, Tyler Toffoli and captain Sidney Crosby also scored for Canada. Crosby added an assist in his return to the worlds after nine years.
''It was pretty good,'' Crosby said. ''We skated well and generated some good chances.''
Crosby scored on a penalty shot with a wrist shot high into the net with 23 seconds remaining in the final period.
''I don't get many of those,'' Crosby said. ''It's nice to get one.''
The forward who helped Canada win two Olympic golds joined the team after his Pittsburgh Penguins were eliminated by the New York Rangers in the first round of the NHL playoffs. He formed the top line with Spezza and MacKinnon that had eight points in the game.
Captain Kaspars Daugavins had a third-period goal for Latvia.
MacKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche, Spezza and another Colorado player, Duchene, scored 4:14 apart in the opening period to put Canada firmly in command.
In Group B in Ostrava, Vadim Shipachyov, Artem Anisimov, Danis Zaripov and Viktor Tikhonov scored in the first period, with the Russians outshooting Norway 15-1.
Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovski allowed two goals by Patrick Thoresen to reduce the lead before in the second before Maxim Chudinov and Artemi Panarin restored the four-goal margin.
Earlier in Group B, captain Matt Hendricks had two goals and added an assist to lift the young U.S. team to victory.
''We want to be the hardest-working team in the tournament,'' Hendricks said. ''That's our goal and our motto.''
Steve Moses, Dan Sexton and Nick Bonino also scored for the Americans.
Finland's goal came from defenseman Jyrki Jokipakka.
In Group A, Arizona defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored the decisive goal in the penalty shootout for Sweden. The game was a repeat of last year's bronze medal game, which the Swedes won 3-0.
''It was probably a fun game to watch for the crowd,'' said Carolina forward Elias Lindholm, who also scored in the shootout. ''It's good for us to come back when we were down 5-4 and good to get a win in the shootout.''
Dominik Simon and Roman Cervenka scored in a 57-second span to tie it at 4 for the Czechs and Martin Zatovic gave them a 5-4 lead before Mattias Sjogren tied it again with 53 seconds to go in regulation.