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John Tavares celebrates his first goal against Czech Republic goalie Michal Neuvirth Wednesday in Pardubice. ((Jacques Boissinot/Canadian Press))

John Tavares scored twice in his world junior championship debut and goaltender Jonathan Bernier earned the shutout as Canada opened the tournament Wednesday with a 3-0 win over host Czech Republic.

Matt Halischuk scored Canada's other goal, while Steve Stamkos had three assists at Pardubice.

Bernier finished with44 saves. Bernierplayed with the Los Angeles Kings at the start of the NHL season before being sent back to his junior team in Lewiston, Maine.

"The important thing was to come out strong and have a good game, control my rebounds," Bernier said. "I came out with a shutout, so it's a plus, but we wanted the three points and that's what we did."

The win extended Canada's unbeaten streak at the tournament to 19 games, eclipsing a mark set by Canadian teams between 1994 and 1997.

Craig Hartsburg's squad is looking to bring a fourth consecutive title back to Canada.

The team will play Slovakia in Group A action Thursday at 10 a.m. ET.

With Bernier getting so much work against the Czechs, Hartsburg could elect to give the start to Steve Mason of the London Knights.

Tavares, the 17-year-old junior star from the Oshawa Generals, was making his debut after being cut from last year's squad.

"It's my job to contribute offensively on the power play, and tonight it was nice to do it," Tavares said."So many guys did so many things: the penalty kill was amazing tonight and Bernier was on his head."

Despite scoring 141 goals in 162 games, Hartsburg and his staff planned to take a cautious approach with Tavares, although that may change after his strong opener.

Stamkos and Tavares are considered the frontrunners to be selected first in the next two NHL entry drafts.

Michal Neuvirth had a strong game in net for the Czechs, making 27 saves.

"We played well in the first period, we played awesome, and then Canada started to play their hockey and they won the hockey game," said Neuvirth, a Washington Capitals draft pick.

Game opens up in middle frame

The game was scoreless until midway through the second, when Tavares struck for the first time.

Canada was fortunate not to trail afterStamkos and Logan Pyett took penalties early in the first period.

Pavel Kubena put the puck past Bernier, but afterthe whistle sounded for Pyett's penalty.

Brad Marchand was foiled by Neuvirth on a Canadian power play early in the second, withStamkos hitting the post.

Canada finally converted at 11:31, on another power play,after Pyett found Tavares near the crease for a redirect.

Halischuk gave Canada some insurance early in the third, getting three whacks at the puck in close before beating Neuvirth.

Tavares then scored his second late, beating the Czech goaltender to the short side.

Other games

In other action, James van Riemsdyk and Kyle Okposo each had a goal and an assistas the United States cruised to a5-1 winover Kazakhstan. Defenceman van Riemskdyk was selected second overall in the June entry draft by Philadelphia, while Okposo left school earlier in December to sign a contract with the New York Islanders.

Max Pacioretty, a Montreal draft pick, left the game with a knee injury and did not return for the U.S.

Colorado Avalanche prospect Johan Alcen scored with less than five minutes left to lift Sweden over Slovakia 4-3. Robin Figren, another Islander draft pick, had two goals for the winners.

Seven different Russians scored in a 7-4 win over Finland. Defenceman Marat Kalamulin had a goal and three assists, while Viktor Tikhonov, grandson of the longtime Russian national coach, also scored.

With files from the Canadian Press