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Coach, teammates not worried after McDavid shut out in world junior opener

NHL.com @NHL

MONTREAL - No one on Canada's junior team has any concern about rising star Connor McDavid being shut out in the team's opening game of the world junior championship.

The Erie Otters star, who is a favourite to be selected first overall in the 2015 NHL draft, led the team with six shots on goal and had some glittering chances. However, neither he nor linemates Curtis Lazar and Nick Ritchie got a point in an 8-0 victory over Slovakia.

"Every game, if we're honest, he should have had a goal," coach Benoit Groulx said Saturday. "He's had some unbelievable chances.

"He wants to do good. It's (a) matter of relaxing and it will come later. We have to understand he's been sidelined for five or six weeks, and coming back in a tournament like this is not easy. But I'm not worried at all."

Canada played five pre-tournament games before Friday's tournament opener. McDavid and his line will get another chance Saturday night when Canada (1-0-0) faces Germany (0-0-0) at the Bell Centre, with Eric Comrie taking over from Zach Fucale in goal.

That unit, plus fourth-line centre Frederik Gauthier, were the only Canadian forwards not to register a point against Slovakia.

McDavid was tearing up the Ontario Hockey League when he broke his hand in a fight in November. He returned when the Canadian team selection camp opened Dec. 11 in Toronto, but may still be shaking off some rust.

While McDavid struggled to find the net, the team's third line featuring centre Nic Petan and winger Robby Fabbri had a big night. Fabbri had two goals and two assists, while Petan had a goal and two helpers.

Fabbri is not worried at all about his longtime teammate on national age group squads.

"The big story of this tournament is McDavid and (American Jack) Eichel," Fabbri said of the two top-ranked players for the NHL draft. "We all know what kind of player Connor is.

"The expectations he has for himself are big, and when he has a game like that where he had all those chances and nothing went in, that would be tough for any player. He sets his goals high and when he doesn't reach them, he's frustrated.

"But he's good at handling that. It was a tough game for him points-wise, but I thought he played well. It'll come. Nobody's worried about that."

On the same night, Eichel was a standout as he set up the Americans' only goal in regulation time with a nifty move and then scored in the shootout as the U.S. downed Finland 2-1.

Groulx said both McDavid and Lazar, who joined the team on loan from the Ottawa Senators, can't expect to be clicking every game.

"I just think (Friday) night they weren't at their best, but they still managed to get chances," said Groulx. "That's the most important thing to me.

"When you have the puck and you're a threat in the offensive zone, guys like that will find a way. I feel it's a matter of time for them."

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