Defenseman Tyson Barrie had a goal and an assist and goaltender Calvin Pickard made 28 saves on Friday to help lead Team Canada to a 4-1 victory over the Czech Republic at AccorHotels Arena on the first day of the 2017 IIHF World Championship in Paris, France.
"We've only had a few practices and one [exhibition] game," Pickard told the IIHF's official website after the contest. "We knew we were going to make mistakes. We just wanted to keep getting better every period. I thought we did that. A 4-1 win to get us kicked off here, it's a great start."
Canada started the scoring at 6:09 of the first period with Barrie assisting on Ryan O'Reilly's game-opening goal, and Mike Matheson found the back of the cage 55 seconds into the second period to give the World's No. 1-ranked team a 2-0 advantage.
The Czechs cut their deficit in half at 12:41 of the third frame, but Barrie scored on a one-time snap shot from the circle 2:09 later to extend Canada's lead back to two. Jeff Skinner tallied an empty-netter with 42 seconds left to seal the victory.
Barrie was on the second defensive pairing with Calvin de Haan of the New York Islanders and played 16:07.
Canada's second forward group was two-thirds Avs, with Matt Duchene and Nathan MacKinnon playing alongside team captain Claude Giroux of the Philadelphia Flyers. Duchene had one shot and a plus-1 rating in 16:43 of ice time, while MacKinnon played 13:33 and also finished with one shot and a plus-1 rating.
Pickard is at his second World Championship after helping his home country to the gold medal at last year's tournament and came up big early on while his teammates were finding their stride.
"Pickard definitely kept us in there, but it's our first game," said Canada and Winnipeg Jets forward Mark Scheifele. "We've got to build off this. Obviously we're not happy with the full game, but we had hints of brightness. So, we've just got to continue to press and get better. That's how you win in this tournament."
The two-time defending champion Canadians now get ready to face Slovenia on Sunday.
Above photo courtesy of @HockeyCanada
Russia (2) vs. Sweden (1) - Shootout
Artemi Panarin scored the lone goal in the shootout and Russia came back to defeat Sweden 2-1 at LANXESS Arena in Cologne, Germany.
The Chicago Blackhawks forward tallied in the third round of the tiebreaker before Sweden's William Nylander was denied on his attempt to end the game in favor of Team Russia.
The Swedes had taken the lead with 5:20 left in the first period, but the Russians' tally at 3:58 of the third frame forced the extra time.
Avalanche prospect Andrei Mironov was on Russia's third defensive pairing with Philadelphia Flyers rookie Ivan Provorov.
Team Sweden alternate captain Gabriel Landeskog was on the top line with Victor Rask and Elias Lindholm and had one shot on goal. Carl Soderberg had three shots on goal while helping make up the Swedes' third forward combo with Nylander and William Karlsson.
Sweden begins the tournament with a back-to-back set, as it now faces co-host Germany on Saturday. Russia's next game is Sunday against Italy.
Finland (3) vs. Belarus (2)
Mikko Rantanen had the primary assist on the game-winning goal midway through the third period, and Finland opened its tournament by surviving a comeback effort by Belarus and winning 3-2 at AccorHotels Arena in Paris, France.
Rantanen also had one shot in 12:26 of ice time while playing on Finland's second line.
The Finns had a two-goal lead just 5:09 into the contest, but Belarus slowly chipped away at the deficit and finally tied the outing 4:32 into the third period. However, a tripping penalty by Belarus' Dimitri Korobov nearly four minutes later proved costly.
Finland took advantage at 9:15 of the third period as Rantanen made a quick pass from below the goal line to Veli-Matti Savinainen, who scored the power-play marker in front to give last year's silver medalists back the lead.
Belarus had its chances late as the Finns took two penalties, but the squad couldn't capitalize on either man advantage.
Finland's next game is Sunday against tournament co-host France.
Germany (2) vs. United States (1)
Co-host Germany began the tournament on a high note by upsetting the United States 2-1 on Friday at LANXESS Arena in Cologne.
Patrick Hager scored on the power play with 6:02 remaining to break a tie and give the Germans the victory in front of a sell-out crowd of 18,688.
Team Germany held the lead for much of the contest after Tobias Rieder's tally at 10:50 of the first period, but it was the Americans that controlled most of the contest as they finished with a 43-27 shots-on-goal advantage. Thomas Greiss was stellar in net for Germany, with only Connor Murphy's marker at 11:00 of the third frame getting past him.
Avs forward J.T. Compher was on Team USA's fourth line with Andrew Copp and Jordan Greenway. He saw 9:20 of ice time.
Next up for the United States is Denmark on Sunday.