Steve Downie, centre, celebrates Canada's first goal against the U.S. ((Jacques Boissinot/Canadian Press))

Canada beat archrival the United States 6-3 in a hard-fought game at the world junior hockey championship in Mora, Sweden, on Wednesday.

Canada burst out of the gate and was ahead 3-0 early in the second period. But the Americans, desperate for a win following an opening-game 2-1 loss to Germany, fought hard until the final buzzer at the 4,500-seat FM Matsson Arena.

Jonathan Toews was the star of the game for Canada. He scored his first two goals of the tournament, including one on a penalty shot that proved to be the winner.

"It's kind of a monkey off my back, because I didn't score all tournament last year,"Toews said. "I was hoping I wouldn't be cursed again."

Afterits second win in as many days, Canada tops Pool A with six points, while the Americans have only one point.

Canada took control of the game early on, notching two goals in the first period.

Steve Downie streaked down the left wing and put a shot through the five-hole of American goalie Jeff Zatkoff at 14:43.

A few minutes later, Tom Pyatt scored a power-play goal with a blast from the point.

Toews netted another power-play goal for Canada less than two minutes into the second period before the American team sprang to life.

Taking advantage of a complacent Canadian side, Erik Johnson put the United States on the board at 2:24. His goal ended Canada's shutout streak at 234 minutes 14 seconds, a run stretching back into the 2006 tournament.

Fourth-line U.S. forward Mike Carman added another marker four minutes later.

Penalty shot decisive

Midway through the final period, a desperate American defender threw his stick in front of Toews, who was driving for the American net.

Toews was awarded a penalty shot andput the puck in the top right corner of the net, on Zatkoff's glove-hand side.

"It was an unbelievable shot," Team Canada head coach Craig Hartsburg said. "That's a tough shot for a left-handed shooter to put it there."

A few minutes later, American Bill Sweatt banged in a goal while one of his teammates seemed to trample Canadian goalie Carey Price. The Canadian side argued, loudly, that the goal shouldn't have been allowed.

With less than two minutes left in the period, Darren Helm won a foot-race with an American defender and tucked the puck behind Zatkoff while sliding past the net on his side.

He then added an empty-net goal to seal the win.