"We moved the puck well and did what we had to in the first period. I was happy that we finished strong in the final period, because I knew that however we performed would carry over into our next game against Canada."
-- U.S. coach Dean Blais
The U.S. improved to 3-0 heading into Thursday's marquee match with Canada for the top spot in Group A (8 p.m., NHLN-US).
Kristo scored twice in a six-goal first period, and Stepan scored twice in a five-goal third as the U.S. outshot Latvia 62-19. Stepan's 8 points leads the team.
Kreider notched the first hat trick for a U.S. player at this year's WJC on a third-period penalty shot. His 4 goals is tops on the team.
"We moved the puck well and did what we had to in the first period," said U.S. coach Dean Blais. "I was happy that we finished strong in the final period, because I knew that however we performed would carry over into our next game against Canada."
Taylor Hall led Canada to an 8-2 win against Slovakia with a hat trick plus an assist. Alex Pietrangelo and Ryan Ellis each had a goal and 2 assists. Martin Jones, in his WJC debut, stopped 25 of 27 shots.
Hall continued to buoy his candidacy for the top pick of the 2010 Entry Draft by scoring twice in a 3:25 span in the first period, sandwiching Pietrangelo's goal.
Richard Panik's second-period goal snapped Canada's scoreless streak at 157:25. Martin Bakos also scored for Slovakia, which faces Switzerland on Thursday for a spot in the quarterfinals. The loser will be sent to relegation play.
In Group B play Tuesday in Regina, Sask., Sweden beat Russia, 4-1, and the Czech Republic beat Austria, 7-1.
Andre Petersson scored twice and Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson had a goal and a pair of assists to lead Sweden in a battle for the top spot in the group.
Jacob Markstrom stopped 36 of 37 shots. Only Kirill Petrov's second-period goal got past him.
Tomas Knotek scored first for the Czechs, but Austria answered with a Dominique Heinrich goal. The Czechs then scored the next six goals for their first win of the tournament.
Contact Adam Kimelman at: firstname.lastname@example.org