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Canada 7 Latvia 0: Game Blog

First Period: Latvia fans are loud, as expected. Canadian fans respond with somedecent noise of their own, giving former Halifax Mooseheads goaltenderPascal Leclaire a nice cheer in his first start at the Metro Centresince 2001.

FIRST PERIOD

** Latvia fans are loud, as expected. Canadian fans respond with some decent noise of their own, giving former Halifax Mooseheads goaltender Pascal Leclaire a nice cheer in his first start at the Metro Centre since 2001.

** Canada gets on the board with two goals in the opening 3:45. One comes from fourth-liner Patrick Sharpe on a rebound, and another comes on a great individual effort from blue-liner Mike Green, who led the NHL in defence scoring this year. Green pinched in from the point and scored on a nifty deke while turning to his side.

** Green is pinching like a mad-man, as he did with the Washington Capitals in what was a breakthrough year. He’s actually the team’s seventh defenceman, but head coach Ken Hitchcock is running him on even-strength shifts with either Jay Bouwmeester or Ed Jovanovski, who are usually together on the No. 1 pairing.

** The early goals have quieted the normally rowdy Latvian fans.

** Dany Heatley ripped a one-timer past Edgars Masalskis at 12:15. He’s got four goals in two games in the tournament already, shaking off an atrocious scoreless slump of 10 games with the Ottawa Senators to end the NHL season.

** Canada had two power-play chances and couldn’t convert.

** Mikelis Redlihs had Latvia’s best chance with 2:06 to go in the period, skating between the circle and rifling a shot that Leclaire had to be sharp on.

** The shot clock after the first period red 13-10 for Canada. Leclaire didn’t face many scintillating scoring chances, but he showed his mental poise in turning away a couple of shots that could have fooled him if he hadn’t been alert.

SECOND PERIOD

** This Nash-Heatley-Getzlaf thing is getting ridiculous. Heatley has been doing most of the scoring so far, but he just fed a streaking Nash, who buried a well-placed shot behind Masalskis to make it 4-0 just 63 seconds into the second.

** Jason Spezza just made a sweet feed from behind the goal line that landed on the stick of a wide-open Martin St. Louis. The former Hart Trophy winner buried it into a gaping cage and it’s now 5-0. This is a very un-Robert Kristan-ian performance by Masalskis, and this game could be a real stinker by the time it’s done.

** Canada’s spare forward, Chris Kunitz, makes it 6-0 on Canada’s 16th shot at the 2:42 mark. It was an innocent-looking shot from the faceoff dot. Masalskis is pulled, and Sergejs Naumovs gets the call to replace him.

** There really isn’t much left to play for in the final 37-plus minutes. It’s a tough situation for Canada. The players want to be respectful, but they don’t want to develop any lazy habits, especially with the U.S. team coming up on Tuesday.

** With two points already, Heatley is one away from Steve Yzerman’s all-time scoring record for Canada. Yzerman, who is this year’s general manager, coincidentally, had 37 points, including 20 at the 1990 world championship.

** Latvia had an outstanding chance with about nine minutes to go in the first period off a strong effort from Guntis Galvins, but Leclaire has been sharp.a

** It’s literally been men-amongst-boys for Heatley-Nash-Getzlaf. Getzlaf cruised behind the net and made a powerful yet delicate backhand pass to Nash, who completed the play with a spectacular, diving finish to make it 7-0 with 7:40 to go.

** Leclaire continues to be sharp when called upon. He just made a flashy glove save on Martins Cipulis that got a big cheer out of the Metro Centre crowd.

** Latvia has been getting its share of scoring chances toward the end of the second period, while Naumovs has been solid in goal in mop-up duty.

** Shots are 23-19 after two periods, and Leclaire deserves credit --- not for the fact that it’s a seven-goal lead, but for the fact Latvia is still scoreless.

THIRD PERIOD

** Canada’s gotten much more for their effort tonight than they did against Slovenia on Friday. In the tournament opener, Canada scored just five times on 65 shots. Tonighty, they’ve already got seven goals on 23 shots.

** An assist to Heatley was just added to Nash’s second goal of the game, giving Nash a share of Canada’s all-time scoring lead with Steve Yzerman. They both have 39 points for their country at the world championship.

** Leclaire just made a diving, down-and-out save on Armands Berzins about four minutes into the third. That was good for a big cheer out of the crowd. Everybody assumes that the starting job in this tournament belongs to Cam Ward, but Leclaire might get the nod as things get more serious. He had the better NHL season, and has the trust of head coach Ken Hitchcock. It will be interesting to watch.

** Eric Staal has been the least noticeable player on Canada’s top two lines. He is on the left wing with Jason Spezza at centre and Martin St. Louis on the right. Hard to say if that’s a criticism, given how well the other five are playing.

** The Pittsburgh Penguins and Cole Harbour’s Sidney Crosby just got one of the biggest cheers of the night. The public-address announcer just told the 7,831 in attendance that the Penguins have eliminated the New York Rangers from the NHL playoffs.

** Leclaire just made another save, and although it’s 7-0 for Canada, Latvia has a 27-26 shooting edge with about 10 minutes remaining in the third.

** Steve Staios just turned the puck over in his own end for a great Latvian scoring chance, but was fortunate it didn’t end up in his net. That’s Staios’s Achilles’ heel --- he’s a great defensive player, but struggles at times to move the puck.

** Los Angeles Kings forward Raitis Ivanas, Latvia’s only NHLer, just took a five-minute major for spearing. That coincided with a minor penalty to Ryan Getzlaf, and leaves Canada with a three-minute power play.

** Latvia takes another penalty and Canada has a two-minute, two-man advantage.

** Fans are still chanting “Latvia, Latvia” with two minutes left. It’s quite a bunch, and they’ve cheered much of the day --- even though there’s little to cheer about.

** Some late power plays allowed Canada to finish with a 36-29 edge in shots. Mikelis Redlihs was Latvia's player of the game, while former Halifax Mooseheads goaltender Pascal Leclaire --- with a 30-save shutout --- took Canada's honours.

 
 
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