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Jonathan Toews, right, watches a shot by Mike Green go past Norway's Pal Grotnes for Canada's first goal on Thursday night. Grotnes almost pulled off a tie before Canada scored late for a 2-1 victory. ((Mike Dembeck/Canadian Press))

Every year there seems to be a goaltender who stones Canada at the global tournament, but luckily for this year's team, Paul Grotnes could not pull off what would have been a Norwegian hockey win for the ages.

Rick Nash scored on a late power play to allow Canada to escape what should have been an easy one with a 2-1 victory over the Norwegians at the world hockey championships in Halifax.

It was the host country's opening game of the second round and the win came after more than 56 minutes of frustration for the Canadians, who outshot Norway 52-16.

Norway's only hockey win over Canada was in 2000 in St. Petersburg.

"We were hoping again but it didn't work out," Norwegian captain Tommy Jakobsen said.

Mike Green also scored for Canada, while Mads Hansen replied for the Norwegians.

The game finally turned when Anders Bastiansen took a high sticking penalty late in the third that gave Canada a chance to end it.

Nash first hit Grotnes in the mask with a shot then came back about a minute later to get the winner by racing in on the defence, going wide and cutting right across the goal crease before putting a backhand into the far corner.

"We knew what we were in for," Nash said. "We didn't expect it to be that close but I think it's a good team-building game for us."

Canada was shorthanded for much of the third period, giving Norway two five-on-three advantages, one 23 seconds long and the other 1:15.

The Canadians also had to kill off a four-minute high sticking penalty to Dan Hamhuis.

Norway could not score on any of the chances, and when Canada finally got back to full strength, that allowed the host's top line of Ryan Getzlaf, Rick Nash and Dany Heatley to finally get back on the ice.

Another stick malfunction

Earlier in the third, Getzlaf made a great pass up to Nash.

Nash broke in on a breakaway and as he was going to shoot, his stick broke in half, ruining the chance.

The Canadians kept up the pressure on the Norwegian goal but could not get through Grotnes.

Norway got on even terms later in the period when Mads Hansen broke in alone and deked Pascal Leclaire, finishing with a backhand to make it 1-1 at 13:59.

Shots on goal through two periods were 34-10 for Canada.

"I think there's always reason for concern in our game," Canadian head coach Ken Hitchcock said. "The goalie is the difference-maker in our sport. He can win games, he can steal games.

"There's no guarantees because of the goaltender."

Early lead for Canada

Warned to play patiently against the close-checking Norwegians, Canada came out firing from all angles, looking for some room.

They got it on one of a succession of power plays during the opening frame.

Brent Burns, seeing a crowd in front, fired one just wide that bounced off the Halifax Metro Centre boards and right back out in front, where it was corralled by Green and deposited behind goaltender Grotnes to make it 1-0.

In other action on Thursday, Sweden routed Denmark 8-1, the Czech Republic blanked Switzerland 5-0 and the United States defeated Germany 6-4.

Canada will return to action on Saturday against Germany.

With files from the Canadian Press