After winning its three preliminary-round games at the International Ice Hockey Federation's World Championship, Team Canada opened qualifying-round play by crushing the host team Latvia 11-0 on Thursday. Predators forward Scott Hartnell notched a goal in the win for his first point of the tournament, and Nashville defenseman Dan Hamhuis added an assist. Canada, who sits atop Group E, has outscored its opponents by a combined 23-7 in its first four tournament games, with the only close match coming in a 2-1 win Tuesday over the U.S.
Next, Canada will face the Czech Republic Sunday. The Czechs polished off Norway 3-1 on Friday in the first game of the qualifying round for both teams. Predators winger Martin Erat entered the game as the Czechs' leading scorer but was held pointless Friday. Columbus Blue Jackets forward Jaroslav Balastik scored the game winner against Norway and is now tied with Erat for the team scoring lead at five points.
On Wednesday, Predators prospect Denis Kulyash scored and Denis Arkhipov contributed an assist as Team Russia closed out its preliminary round schedule with a 4-3 win over Slovakia. Then on Thursday, in Russia's first game of the qualifying round, Kulyash posted a goal and an assist in a 6-0 blanking of Ukraine. Russia has won all four games in tournament play and is in first place in Group F.
Team USA, whose roster includes Predators defensman Ryan Suter and forward Adam Hall, got off to a tough start in the qualifying round with a 4-0 shutout at the hands of Finland on Friday. Suter and Hall were both held pointless while Nashville prospects Jukka Hentunen and Mikko Lehtonen, who have made significant contributions to the Finnish team so far, were scoreless as well.
Hall and Suter's U.S. squad was scheduled to face Latvia Saturday afternoon.