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by Staff Writer / Arizona Coyotes

Crosby-Boyes-Bergeron line leads Canada
to 5-3 victory over Denmark at worlds

RIGA, Latvia (CP) - Call it a learning experience.

In its first game at the IIHF world hockey championship on Friday, Team Canada found out just how potent its top line is and how dangerous a seemingly weaker opponent can be. Sidney Crosby scored two goals, including the winner early in the third period, to lift Canada past Denmark 5-3 in its first preliminary game.

Linemate Brad Boyes had a goal and an assist while Patrice Bergeron, the third player on Canada's top unit, added three assists. Mike Comrie and Mike Richards also scored for Canada.

Frans Nielsen, Jens Nielsen and Kim Staal replied for Denmark, which held Canada to a 2-2 tie at the 2003 world championship and looked like it might do so again here.

The score was tied 3-3 until Crosby's second goal 3:17 into the third period. Bergeron found him open in the slot with a pass from behind the goal and the teenage star wasted no time beating Danish goalie Peter Hirsch with a high shot.

Richards made it 5-3 when he poked in a loose rebound with less than seven minutes left to give the Canadians some breathing room.

Canada dressed only 15 skaters, including Swiss League forward Glen Metropolit and German League defenceman Micki Dupont, but had lots of jump in the first period after a slow start.

Comrie and Scott Hartnell took successive penalties to give the Danes a 5-on-3 advantage before the game was two minutes old. Starting goalie Marc Denis had to be sharp while Denmark controlled the play for a long stretch, making great saves on Bo Nordby-Andersen and Morten Green.

Canada then took advantage of its own power-play chances to make it 2-0. Boyes opened the scoring at 5:01 with a man advantage after taking a nice pass from Bergeron and Crosby got his first of the tournament just over two minutes later on a setup from Boyes while Canada had a 5-on-3.

It looked like Canada might run away with it after Comrie took a perfect long pass from Dupont and beat Hirsch on a breakaway to make it 3-0 at 13:41 of the first period.

But that changed in a hurry in the second.

Frans Nielsen narrowed Canada's lead to 3-1 with a short-handed goal at 7:43. The New York Islanders draft pick skated into Canada's zone and beat Denis with a shot that went in off Jason Williams' stick.

The Skonto Arena was barely more than half full but it really came to life with screaming Danes when Jens Nielsen scored on a power play to make it 3-2. The puck skipped over Canadian defenceman Brad Stuart's stick before Nielsen banked it into the goal off Denis from a bad angle.

Staal tied the game for Denmark at 17:49 of the second period when he floated a wrist shot from the point that fooled Denis.

Ecstatic Danish fans hugged in the stands during the second intermission, stunned by their team's unexpected turnaround.

Notes: NHLers Brendan Shanahan, Mike Cammalleri, Matt Pettinger and Brent Seabrook are all expected to join Canada in the coming days .B .B . Canada beat Denmark 47-0 at the 1949 world championship in Sweden - its largest margin of victory ever .B .B . According to the Danish media guide, there are more people registered to play hockey in Toronto than all of Denmark .B .B . European-based Canadians Stacey Roest and Derrick Walser, who have been practising with the team, did not dress and will not be part of the active roster for the tournament.

On Friday, Phoenix Coyotes Defenseman Zbynek Michalek helped the Czech Republic earn a 1-1 tie with Latvia in the first game for both teams in the 2006 IIHF World Hockey Championships.

Michalek finished the contest with five shots on goal to lead all Czech defensemen.

The next contest for the Czech Republic will come on Sunday when they face Team Slovakia.

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