INNSBRUCK, Austria -- Rick Nash had two goals and an assist
to lift Canada to a 3-1 victory over the United States on Thursday
at the world hockey championships.
The 20-year-old star of the Columbus Blue Jackets snapped two
ties with his goals and led Canada to their third straight win in
the opening round. Joe Thornton had Canada's other goal, and Mike Knuble scored for the United States (2-1).
Nash has six goals in the tournament, playing on a line with
Thornton and Simon Gagne.
Canada, the defending world champion, will play Sweden -- the
runner-up the last two years -- in the qualification round on
Saturday. The Americans will play Finland on Friday.
Latvia clinched a spot in the second round with a 3-1 victory
Martins Cipulis and Atvars Tribuncovs scored in the first two
periods for Latvia, and Girts Ankipans added an empty-netter with
25 seconds left to seal it.
The Czech Republic locked up first place in Group D by beating
Kazakhstan 1-0 in Vienna on a second-period goal by Edmonton Oilers
forward Ales Hemsky. The Czechs won their third straight but
struggled offensively without injured forward Jaromir Jagr.
Jagr, a five-time NHL scoring champion, broke the little finger
on his left hand Tuesday when he was slashed by German defenseman
Stefan Schauer. Jagr was fitted with a splint and rejoined the team
Switzerland beat Germany 5-1 in the second game at Vienna on
Thursday. Switzerland (2-1) finished second in Group D while
Germany was last (0-3).
Needing only a tie to win Group B based on goal differential,
Canada took a 1-0 lead just 51 seconds into the second period on a
great effort by Nash.
Nash tried a wraparound and the puck bounced high. He knocked it
down with his left glove, skated backward away from the net and let
go a low shot that got past goalie Rick DiPietro.
The United States tied it 1-1 at 5:16 of the second when Knuble
stole the puck from defenseman Ed Jovanovski, skated in from the
blue line, and whipped a shot between Martin Brodeur's pads during
a power play.
It was the third goal of the tournament for Knuble, who played
in Sweden during this season's NHL lockout. He is tied for the team
goal lead with Mark Parrish.
Nash made it 2-1 while the teams were playing 4-on-4. Dan Boyle
broke up an American rush and sent Nash in on a partial breakaway.
Nash made a nice move to protect the puck from U.S. defenseman
Jordan Leopold, then put in a shot off the crossbar at 11:29.
Thornton gave Canada a two-goal lead with a power-play goal at
12:42 of the third period.
The Americans outshot Canada 14-4 in the opening period, but
went 0-for-3 on the power play. Brodeur was seldom tested as the
Canadians killed the penalties well.
During the final man-advantage, Brodeur made a nice double save
when the Americans applied pressure.
Canada is 34-3 against the United States at the world
Kazakhstan's Vitaly Kolesnik made 38 saves -- including some
difficult ones -- but Hemsky took a pass from Martin Rucinsky and
scored at 10:44.
Kazakhstan (1-2) had a power play in the final minutes, causing
concern for the estimated 5,000 Czech fans in attendance, but Milan
Hnilicka of the Toronto Maple Leafs stayed perfect and made 16
saves to earn the shutout in his first tournament appearance.
Kazakhstan stayed close and had several scoring opportunities
despite being whistled for eight penalties.
Jurij Golicic had the only goal for Slovenia (0-3), which was
shut out in the first two games during its world championships
debut. Slovenia was outscored 15-0 in losses to the United States
Latvia (1-2) finished in third place in Group B behind the North
American teams. The top three teams from each group advance to the
Slovenia will play in the relegation round against Denmark,
Austria and Germany. The two top teams in the relegation round will
stay in the championship next year, while the last two will be