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Germany vs. Canada

NHL.com @NHL

Canada learned in its Olympic opener that defending its title won't be easy.

The Canadians seek their second straight win after a surprisingly tough first game when they meet Germany on Thursday.

Canada fought off a feisty upset bid by underdog Italy before pulling away for a 7-2 win in its opener in Turin on Wednesday, with embattled executive director Wayne Gretzky in attendance.

The host nation tied the game 43 seconds into the second period before Canada finally got untracked with the game's next five goals. Dany Heatley started the outburst 72 seconds after Italy's tying goal.

Although it wasn't easy, it was a better start than Canada's 5-2 loss to Sweden in its opener in Salt Lake City in 2002. The Canadians recovered to capture their first gold medal in 50 years.

"The first period went as we expected, we were a little bit tentative. They were assertive and aggressive - it was not what we expected from the scouting report," Canada coach Pat Quinn said. "I don't want to compare this to 2002, because everything is different, but this was a good game for us."

Jarome Iginla, who scored twice in Canada's 5-2 win over the United States in the gold medal game four years ago, had two power-play goals. Linemate Joe Sakic set up both those goals for the Canadians, who had a 50-20 edge in shots.

"When you play with Joe, he's easy to follow," Iginla said. "He got going and we were able to settle down."

Sakic is off to another fast start after leading Canada with seven points four years ago.

Canada will try to solve Germany goaltender Olaf Kolzig, who made 30 saves in a 4-1 loss to the Czech Republic on Wednesday.

The Germans took the lead on Tino Boos' first career international goal in the first period, but Kolzig was beaten twice by defenseman Tomas Kaberle on power plays in a three-minute span early in the second period as the Czechs went ahead for good.

"We played with a lot of heart and our team really worked hard," Kolzig said. "Getting into penalty trouble with the Czechs is too tough because they will take advantage every time."

Despite the loss, Kolzig had several key saves that kept the underdog Germans in the game. One of his most impressive moments came when he thwarted a penalty shot by Milan Hejduk with Germany trailing 2-1 in the third period.

The Germans, playing without injured Boston Bruins star Marco Sturm, opted to keep four players back against the offensive-minded Czechs - a strategy they will likely use against the powerful Canadians. Germany is coached by former NHL defenseman Uwe Krupp.

Canada and Germany also met in the second game of the 2002 games, with the Canadians holding on for a 3-2 victory. Sakic scored the game's first goal and Martin Brodeur made 18 saves in his Olympic debut.

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