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Hot start for Heatley, Spezza at worlds

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
Senators centre Mike Fisher of Team Canada duels for position with Andrei Antonov of Belarus during their game Friday at the 2009 IIHF World Championship in Zurich, Switerland. Canada won 6-1 (Photo by Jukka Rautio/HHOF-IIHF Images).

Ottawa Senators fans know this combination oh so well.

Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley wasted little time flashing their familiar chemistry in Team Canada colours on Friday at the 2009 IIHF World Championship. The Senators duo combined for six points in Team Canada's 6-1 rout of Belarus in its tournament-opener in Kloten, Switzerland.

Given the short preparation time for the global tourney, Team Canada head coach Lindy Ruff of the Buffalo Sabres opted to pair familiar combinations to help speed up development of his squad's cohesiveness. Spezza and Heatley, who have been linemates for the majority of the last four seasons with the Senators, were an easy match on the team's top line.

Spezza broke open a tight 2-0 game in the third period, scoring at the 4:27 mark, with Heatley and James Neal of the Dallas Stars drawing the assists. Heatley, Canada's all-time leading goal scorer at the hockey worlds, notched a pair himself before the final buzzer, with Spezza drawing assists on each tally.

Heatley's helper allowed him to tie Steve Yzerman for the all-time assists lead for Canada (21) at the hockey worlds.

In between, Senators centre Mike Fisher contributed to Canada's four-goal outburst in the third period by burying a shot behind Belarus goaltender Vitali Koval. Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning had both goals in the first period for Canada, which held a 42-24 edge in shots.

Canada resumes preliminary-round play on Sunday, facing off against Hungary at the Arena Zurich-Kloten (4:30 p.m., TSN).

While Spezza and Heatley were lighting up the scoreboard in Zurich, it was teammate Anton Volchenkov who earned credit for the first point by a Senators player in the tournament. The burly blueliner set up a first-period goal by Ilya Kovalchuk of the Atlanta Thrashers as Russia blanked Christoph Schubert and Germany 5-0 in Bern.

Saturday update: Finland, U.S. open with victories

Senators forward Jarkko Ruutu had an assist as Finland blanked Norway 5-0 in its tournament opener on Saturday in Zurich.

Also Saturday, the United States doubled up on Latvia 4-2 in Bern. Forwards Nick Foligno and Ryan Shannon of the Senators are part of the American team.

For a complete 2009 world hockey championship schedule, click here.

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