Nash scores twice, adds assist in Canada win
INNSBRUCK, Austria -- Rick Nash had two goals and an assist to lift Canada to a 3-1 victory over the United States on Thursday at the world hockey championships.
The 20-year-old star of the Columbus Blue Jackets snapped two ties with his goals and led Canada to their third straight win in the opening round. Joe Thornton had Canada's other goal, and Mike Knuble scored for the United States (2-1).
Nash has six goals in the tournament, playing on a line with Thornton and Simon Gagne.
Canada, the defending world champion, will play Sweden -- the runner-up the last two years -- in the qualification round on Saturday. The Americans will play Finland on Friday.
Latvia clinched a spot in the second round with a 3-1 victory over Slovenia.
Martins Cipulis and Atvars Tribuncovs scored in the first two periods for Latvia, and Girts Ankipans added an empty-netter with 25 seconds left to seal it.
The Czech Republic locked up first place in Group D by beating Kazakhstan 1-0 in Vienna on a second-period goal by Edmonton Oilers forward Ales Hemsky. The Czechs won their third straight but struggled offensively without injured forward Jaromir Jagr.
Jagr, a five-time NHL scoring champion, broke the little finger on his left hand Tuesday when he was slashed by German defenseman Stefan Schauer. Jagr was fitted with a splint and rejoined the team on Wednesday.
Switzerland beat Germany 5-1 in the second game at Vienna on Thursday. Switzerland (2-1) finished second in Group D while Germany was last (0-3).
Needing only a tie to win Group B based on goal differential, Canada took a 1-0 lead just 51 seconds into the second period on a great effort by Nash.
Nash tried a wraparound and the puck bounced high. He knocked it down with his left glove, skated backward away from the net and let go a low shot that got past goalie Rick DiPietro.
The United States tied it 1-1 at 5:16 of the second when Knuble stole the puck from defenseman Ed Jovanovski, skated in from the blue line, and whipped a shot between Martin Brodeur's pads during a power play.
It was the third goal of the tournament for Knuble, who played in Sweden during this season's NHL lockout. He is tied for the team goal lead with Mark Parrish.
Nash made it 2-1 while the teams were playing 4-on-4. Dan Boyle broke up an American rush and sent Nash in on a partial breakaway. Nash made a nice move to protect the puck from U.S. defenseman Jordan Leopold, then put in a shot off the crossbar at 11:29.
Thornton gave Canada a two-goal lead with a power-play goal at 12:42 of the third period.
The Americans outshot Canada 14-4 in the opening period, but went 0-for-3 on the power play. Brodeur was seldom tested as the Canadians killed the penalties well.
During the final man-advantage, Brodeur made a nice double save when the Americans applied pressure.
Canada is 34-3 against the United States at the world championships.
Kazakhstan's Vitaly Kolesnik made 38 saves -- including some difficult ones -- but Hemsky took a pass from Martin Rucinsky and scored at 10:44.
Kazakhstan (1-2) had a power play in the final minutes, causing concern for the estimated 5,000 Czech fans in attendance, but Milan Hnilicka of the Toronto Maple Leafs stayed perfect and made 16 saves to earn the shutout in his first tournament appearance.
Kazakhstan stayed close and had several scoring opportunities despite being whistled for eight penalties.
Jurij Golicic had the only goal for Slovenia (0-3), which was shut out in the first two games during its world championships debut. Slovenia was outscored 15-0 in losses to the United States and Canada.
Latvia (1-2) finished in third place in Group B behind the North American teams. The top three teams from each group advance to the qualification round.
Slovenia will play in the relegation round against Denmark, Austria and Germany. The two top teams in the relegation round will stay in the championship next year, while the last two will be demoted.
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press
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