PARDUBICE, Czech Republic - It looked like an unremarkable 2-0 win over Slovakia, but Thursday's victory was historic for Canada at the world junior hockey championship.
The win marked the first time the country has opened with two consecutive shutouts in the 35-year history of the tournament. And the Canadians had to go to the well often to do it as they had spent a lot of mental and physical energy beating the host Czech Republic in an emotional game less than 24 hours earlier.
"It's the best possible start and having no goals against is huge, especially in a tournament like this," said captain Karl Alzner.
Steve Mason of the London Knights shut the door on the Slovaks by stopping 22 shots. His stellar showing came after Jonathan Bernier's 44-save performance the previous night against the Czechs, which was also a record for a Canadian goaltender.
"Watching Jonathan yesterday was unbelievable," Mason said. "Sitting on the bench, being a competitive guy, you definitely want to be out there helping the team out.
"For today's game, I wanted to go out there and be a big part of the win."
The University of Wisconsin's Kyle Turris scored two power-play goals and Guelph Storm defenceman Drew Doughty assisted on both of them.
Canada extended its tournament record for consecutive wins to 20 and that streak started in the 2005 championship in Grand Forks, N.D.
Canada (2-0) faces the Swedes on Saturday (2 p.m. ET) and completes the preliminary round of Pool A on Monday against Denmark.
Head coach Craig Hartsburg said Bernier would be back in net against Sweden "and then we'll go from there after that," he said.
The Czech Republic (1-1) beat Denmark 5-2 in the other Pool A game Thursday.
Russia had the same turnaround time between games as Canada and pulled out a 5-4 win over promoted Kazakhstan in Liberec to top Pool B at 2-0. Finland (1-1) edged Switzerland 4-3.
The top team in each pool earns a bye to the semifinal round Jan. 4, while the second-and third-place teams cross over and meet in the quarter-finals on Jan. 2.
Canada had beaten Slovakia, which has six Canadian Hockey League players in its lineup, 6-1 in an exhibition game prior to this tournament.
Canada's fatigue gave the Slovaks a shot at an upset, but they were in the penalty box early and often. The game had little flow with 19 minor penalties in total.
"They had a lot of power plays and that was the main part of the game," said Slovak forward Tomas Marcinko of the Barrie Colts. "There was also kind of lots of dives from their side, but the score is two-nothing and that's it."
Alzner said he wasn't going to get into a diving debate.
"The refs saw something different obviously, so he can take that up with the refs."
Canada's power-play units, which had gone 2-for-5 against the Czechs, laboured to produce a pair of goals on 12 chances
The Canadians moved the puck slowly and failed to convert four opportunities in the first period, including 51 seconds' worth of 5-on-3, although Turris scored the first goal of the game with a two-man advantage 54 seconds into the second.
He got lumber on Alzner's shot from the blue-line and redirected it past Slovak goalie Julius Hudacek. The Phoenix Coyotes draft pick beat Hudacek again at 13:20 of the third period off the speed and creative puckwork of Doughty.
"We battled through today and it wasn't pretty or energetic at times, but we got the win," Hartsburg said. "We didn't do a lot of things with the puck today and we need to be better with it on the power play and five on five."
The Canadians looked after the other side of the special teams' ledger by holding the Slovaks scoreless on seven chances a man up in front of an announced crowd of 3,057 at Pardubice Arena.
The buzz around Thursday's game was considerably less than the night before against the Czechs, despite the vocal efforts of about 200 Canadians and the constant drum beating by Slovakia supporters.
Mason wasn't challenged as often as Bernier had been, but Mason's quick pad save on Patrik Lusnak with just over five minutes to go in the second period preserved Canada's one-goal lead heading into the third.
Mason admitted he hadn't slept well wondering if he'd get into Thursday's game.
When Hartsburg gave him the go-ahead in the morning, he told the Columbus Blue Jackets prospect he shouldn't try to duplicate Bernier's performance, but meet his own expectations instead.
"Once we got down to the last eight minutes of the third period, I started thinking that I could get a shutout and get this team off to an even better start than we had," Mason said.
"For the team to get shutouts in a row to start such a huge tournament, it's credit to the entire team and we can feel good about ourselves going into the third game."
CP player of the game(at) - Kyle Turris. The third overall pick in this year's NHL draft by Phoenix breathed life into Canada's sputtering power play simply by battling for position in front of the net and burying his chances.
Notes(at) - Canada outshot Slovakia 13-4 in the second period . . . Hartsburg switched Zach Boychuk to Brandon Sutter's line with Stefan Legein and moved Wayne Simmonds to Riley's Holzapfel's wing opposite Colton Gillies to start Thursday's game . . . The Kitchener Rangers have the most Canadian Hockey League players in the tournament with three: Canada's Matt Halischuk, Switzerland's Yannick Weber and Denmark's Mikkel Boedker.