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 last year’s runner-up Finland 5-1.
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 goaltender 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 netted from a penalty with a wrist shot high into the net with 23 seconds remaining in the final period to finish the scoring.
“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 earned eight points in the game.
Captain Kaspars Daugavins had a third period consolation 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 Ostrava 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 had a goal each for Americans.
Finland’s goal came from defenseman Jyrki Jokipakka.
In late games Friday, defending champion Russia plays Norway and host Czech Republic faces Sweden.
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