After a shaky start to the tournament, Canada put on an offensive and defensive clinic Tuesday at the world hockey championship in Austria.
Boston Bruins captain Joe Thornton netted a pair of goals and added two assists to lead Canada to an easy 8-0 win over Slovenia in a Pool B contest in Innsbruck.
Brendan Morrison also scored two goals, while Kirk Maltby, Simon Gagne, Rick Nash and Ryan Smyth added individual markers for Canada, who top Pool B with a 2-0 record. Wade Redden and Kris Draper each had two assists.
"So far, so good," said Thornton, who has seven points at the tournament playing on a line with Nash and Gagne. "My linemates can put the puck in the net, so as long as we keep the puck down low and get some shots, I think we can score some goals."
Canada, who officially clinched a spot in the qualifying round with the win, looked rusty in its opening game of the tournament, a 6-4 win over Latvia on Saturday, but more than made up for it with a dominant performance against Slovenia.
Canada ran roughshod by dominating the faceoff battle, cycling the puck with ease in the offensive zone and forechecking with great efficiency. The Canadian defence, anchored by Ed Jovanovski and Robyn Regehr, were hardly bothered by the Slovenian forwards.
Slovenia's Anze Kopitar, a 17-year-old forward projected to go in the top 10 of the next NHL Entry Draft, was a non-factor.
Head coach Marc Habscheid gave starting goalie Martin Brodeur the day off, but Canada hardly missed a beat with backup Roberto Luongo between the pipes. The Florida Panthers goalie stopped 12 shots to record the shutout.
"Actually, we were pretty happy with how guys were handling themselves," Habscheid said. "Their shifts were where they should be, their line changes were good â it's a difficult game to play but they did well. I thought a lot of their habits were good ones, they didn't try a lot of hope passes or things that we didn't want to see."
"Any time you put on the Maple Leaf, there's millions of kids and hockey players in Canada who just dream of that," said Nash. "For me personally, it doesn't matter if we play a beer league team or Slovenia or the USA, I'll be up for the game."
Slovenia (0-2) has been outscored 15-0 at the tournament thus far. The U.S. hammered Slovenia 7-0 on Sunday in its first game of the round-robin.
Slovenia, a former Yugoslav state that gained independence in 1991, is playing in only its third world championship tournament.
It showed on Tuesday, as Slovenia goalie Gaber Glavic was kept busy (Canada peppered him with 56 shots) and but for his heroic efforts, the score could have been even more lopsided.
It took Canada all of 63 seconds to open the scoring. Thornton capitalized on a Slovenia turnover and beat Glavic from in close after getting four whacks at the puck.
He added his second goal of the game four minutes later and Morrison scored at 13:17 as Canada took a 3-0 lead into the intermission.
Maltby found the net early in the second period, and Gagne scored a power-play goal at 12:58 to give Canada a commanding 5-0 lead.
The trouncing continued in the final frame. Nash and Morrison scored less than two minutes apart in the third to make it 7-0. Smyth added a goal with six minutes left to complete the rout.
Canada meets the U.S. on Thursday in its final round-robin contest.
United States 3, Latvia 1
Mark Parrish scored twice in the third period to pace United States to a 3-1 victory over Latvia on Tuesday. Ty Conklin made 15 saves for the Americans, who are tied with Team Canada atop Group B with a 2-0 record.
Czech Republic 2, Germany 0
Tomas Vokoun turned aside 18 shots to backstop the Czech Republic to a 2-0 victory over a hard-working German side. Pavel Kubina and Petr Sykora scored for the Czech Republic, who skated to a second win.
But the Czech's victory didn't come without a cost. Jaromir Jagr left the game midway through the second period, after apparently breaking a finger on his left hand. Jagr was taken to a nearby hospital for further examination. His status for the rest of the tournament is unclear.
Switzerland 2, Kazakhstan 1
In Group D action from Vienna, Switzerland defeated Kazakhstan 2-1.
Patrick Fischer and Sandy Jeannin scored for Switzerland, while Alexey Litvinenko tallied for Kazakhstan. Both teams sport 1-1 records.
with files from Canadian Press