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Canada powers past Latvia at Worlds

by Staff Writer / New York Rangers
Goaltender Chad Johnson, who played five games for the Rangers in 2009-10, looks to make a save against Latvia's Janis Sprukts during the third period of Canada's 6-1 win on Monday night in Mannheim.

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Team Canada continued to coast through the early stages of the 2010 World Championship tournament on Monday in Mannheim, Germany, as the Canadians scored four power-play goals in routing Latvia 6-1.

The Canadian squad, assembled by Rangers great Mark Messier in his first experience as Team Canada General Manager, improved to 2-0 at the tournament heading into its final round-robin group game against the Swiss on Wednesday.

Three Rangers took part in the win for Canada, including goaltender Chad Johnson, who split his 2009-10 season between the Rangers and Hartford Wolf Pack.

Leading 6-0 after two periods, Canadian head coach and former Rangers Stanley Cup champion Craig MacTavish removed starter Chris Mason of the St. Louis Blues and replaced him with Johnson for the third period.

Making his first appearance at a major international tournament, Johnson held up well in net, stopping 11 of 12 Latvian shots. Most of Latvia's scoring chances came during a parade of late Canadian penalties.

With Evander Kane off for hooking at 14:34 of the third, Johnson made a series of tough saves. He then robbed Martins Karsums during two separate penalty kills -- the first with Rich Peverley in the box for interference and the second with Steve Downie serving a slashing call at 19:04.

Despite his outstanding efforts to help the Canadians kill off Latvian power plays, Johnson did allow the lone Latvian goal to Georgijs Pujacs at 10:25 of the third period.

The goal against came when Pujacs batted in the rebound of a shot by Juris Stals. Johnson made a good stop on Stals, but the rebound fell right onto the stick of Pujacs, who was stationed just outside the crease to Johnson's left.

The other two Blueshirts who played for Canada were defensemen Marc Staal and Michael Del Zotto.

Paired on defense with Brent Burns of the Minnesota Wild, Staal finished the game with two shots and a plus-1 rating in 12:04 of ice time. He got his greatest amount of action in the third period, when he skated 5:09.

Del Zotto saw 14:23 of ice time but was not credited with any shots that got through to the Latvian net was not on the ice for any goals. Del Zotto skated with Toronto's Francois Beauchemin as his defense partner.

Canada outshot Latvia 32-24 for the evening, but the whole story was special teams. The Canadians scored on each of their first four power-play opportunities to run away with the victory.

Rangers defenseman Michael Del Zotto, who is experiencing his first World Championship action with Team Canada at this year's tournament, tangles with Latvia's Gints Meija on Monday night.
Canada didn't need much time to cash in on the game's first power play, as John Tavares tallied just 1:59 into the opening period -- 50 seconds after Latvia's Janis Sprukts went off for interference.

Columbus defenseman Kris Russell and Anaheim forward Corey Perry assisted on the goal, which was Tavares' first in World Championship play.

Tampa Bay Lightning star Steven Stamkos made Canada a perfect 2-for-2 on power plays in the first period, when he blasted home a shot from the left circle at the 18:19 mark for a 2-0 lead. The goal came 28 seconds after Andris Dzerins went off for roughing.

Russell fed Stamkos with a perfect cross ice pass from the left point for his second assist of the game. Perry also picked up his second assist on the goal.

The Canadians kept the power-play goals coming in the second period, as defenseman Mark Giordano of the Calgary Flames scored at 5:30 of the second, taking a pass from Ray Whitney just inside the blue line across from the Latvian goal and ripping a blast into the back of the net for a 3-0 advantage with former NHL player Herbert Vasiljevs off for hooking.

Canada did it again on their next man-advantage when Tavares notched his second of the game off a pretty cross-crease feed from Perry at 6:58. Positioned just outside the crease to the goalie's left, Tavares scored his second goal just 55 seconds after Latvia's Guntis Galvins was called for hooking.

Tavares's goal prompted a netminding change, as Martins Raitums replaced Edgar Masalskis in goal for Latvia.

With Staal out on the ice at 10:07 of the second period, Steve Downie of the Tampa Bay Lightning made it 5-0 for Canada when he put home the rebound of a shot from Burns, who had driven into the slot with a nice move to get open to Raitums' right. Raitums made the stop, but Downie was right there to knock in the rebound.

Downie's goal was the game's first scored at even strength.

Skating 4-on-4 after Latvia's Arvids Rekis went off for tripping at 18:57 of the second, Canada won a faceoff in the Latvian zone and got the puck back to Giordano at the right point. The Flames defenseman did the rest skating to the center of the zone and driving a wrister between the goalie's pads to make it 6-0 through the first two periods.

Monday's other night game saw Finland rebound from a loss to Denmark and beat host Germany 1-0 on a goal by former Rangers forward Jarkko Immonen.

Canada resumes tournament play against Switerland on Wednesday in Mannheim. The Swiss team, which is also 2-0, includes Andres Ambuhl, who spent last season as as teammate of Johnson's in Hartford.
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