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Rangers defensemen Marc Staal
and Michael Del Zotto
, along with Blueshirts backup goaltender Chad Johnson
, had an easy day on Friday at the IIHF World Championship tournament, as their Canadian team pummeled Norway 12-1 to open qualification-round play at Mannheim, Germany.
After giving up the game's first goal, Team Canada never looked back, turning the game into a laugher with 12 unanswered tallies, including a remarkable seven in the second period alone.
With its lopsided victory, the Canadian squad assembled by Rangers legend Mark Messier, who is serving as the Team Canada General Manager, moved into first place in its qualifying-round group. Messier, now the Special Assistant to Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather, is making his debut as Team Canada's GM.
All three players with Blueshirts ties saw action in the game. Staal, who had a second-period assist, led the way with 15:29 of ice time after being moved up to the No. 1 defensive pair alongside Buffalo Sabres star Tyler Myers to open the game. He later skated alongside Brent Burns of the Minnesota Wild, who has been his partner throughout the tournament.
Staal played 5:58 in the first period, 5:53 in the second and 3:38 in the third. He was on the ice for three Canadian goals -- even-strength tallies by Evander Kane, Rich Peverley and John Tavares -- to finish plus-3 for the afternoon. He also had two shots on goal, including a first-period shot that rebounded out to Kane for a goal, giving Staal his first assist and point of his IIHF World Championship career.
With Canada dressing eight defensemen for the game, Del Zotto saw limited action until the third period. He skated one 42-second shift in the middle period, but was on for 7:58 of the third to finish with 8:40 of overall ice time. He was also on the ice for a goal by Jordan Eberle and finished plus-1 for the game.
Johnson, who earlier played against Latvia, came in to play the third period against Norway and stopped all seven shots he faced to secure the victory. He had entered the game in relief of Canadian starter Chris Mason of the St. Louis Blues, who made 11 saves as Team Canada built up an 8-1 lead through 40 miinutes.
John Tavares of the Islanders notched a hat trick for Canada, while Edmonton Oilers prospect Jordan Eberle led all scorers with a goal and three assists.
Norway was forced to play without star goaltender Pal Grotnes, an Olympian who was suspended for the game vs. Canada due to a match penalty he took in the final preliminary-round game. Ruben Smith, a 23-year-old Norwegian league goalie, started in Grotnes' absence and gave up 10 goals before exiting with 14:03 left in the game.
Before the Canadian avalanche of goals began, Norway's enjoyed its only proud moment when it took an early 1-0 lead on a goal by Jonas Holos at 1:35 of the opening period. Holos scored on a hard slap shot from the top of the right circle that sailed past Mason.
Canada tied the game -- and began its road to victory -- at 13:09 of the first when Kane backhanded home a rebound from the slot to make it 1-1. The low shot into the right side of the net came under heavy pressure on Norwegian goalie Smith, who made the first save on Staal's shot from the left circle.
Although tied at 1-1 after 20 minutes, Canada outshot Norway 12-7 in the first period. An apparent Canadian goal was disallowed in the first due to a crease violation.
Canada got its first power play at 2:32 of the second period, when Tommy Jakobsen tripped up Brooks Laich as he headed for the net. Canada took full advantage of that power play, getting the eventual winning goal from Corey Perry at 3:51. Taking a cross-ice pass from Kris Russell, Ray Whitney drove a shot from the top of the left circle that Perry deflected in from in front of the net.
Halfway through the game, while killing a slashing penalty to Burns, Canada was leading 2-1 and had outshot Norway 20-10.
The Canadians made it 3-1 at 13:12 of the second, when Calgary Flames defenseman Mark Giordano scored from the slot off a pretty centering pass from Colorado Avalanche forward Matt Duchene along the right boards.
Canada scored again on a power play to make it 4-1 at 16:42 of the second, with Tavares picking up his first goal just 28 seconds after the Norwegians were called for having too many men on the ice.
The rout continued less than a minute later at the 17:27 mark, when Rich Peverley scored from the right circle off the rush, with assists going Kane and Eberle for a 5-1 lead. Steve Downie made it 6-1 at 18:16 when he capped off a 2-on-1 with Steve Ott, scoring from just outside the crease to Smith's left
Only 50 seconds after the Downie goal, Canada cashed in a 5-on-3 resulting from a roughing call against Ole-Kristian Tollefsen and a match penalty to Tommy Jakobsen immediately after Downie scored.
This time it was Whitney blasting home a drive from the top of the right circle at 19:06.
As time ran out in the period and the Canadians still on a power play, Kane stretched the lead to 8-1 with a tap-in goal from just outside the crease, converting a perfect pass from Eberle.
The pounding continued early in the third period, just 39 seconds in, as Eberle scored off an assist from Peverley to make it 9-1. Tavares picked up his second of the game from Corey Perry at 5:57, driving Smith from the nets in favor of Andre Lysenstoen.
Norway's replacement goaltender didn't fare any better than Smith. Tavares welcomed Lysenstoen to the game by completing his hat trick at 9:18 of the third for an 11-1 lead, and Matt Duchene made it 12-1 exactly one minute later.
In other qualifying-round games on Friday, Denmark routed Slovakia 6-0. Finland shut out Belarus 2-0, and Sweden topped Latvia 4-2.
Canada's next qualifying-round game takes place on Sunday vs. Sweden.
Five players with ties to the Rangers are set to play on Saturday, when Brandon Dubinsky
, Matt Gilroy and Chris Kreider
's USA team meets Kazakhstan in the relegation round, while Artem Anisimov
and Russia face Germany, and Michal Rozsival and the Czechs play Switzerland in a pair of qualification-round games.