PARIS, France – Nathan MacKinnon (Cole Harbour, N.S./Colorado, NHL) had a hat trick, and added an assist for good measure, leading Canada’s National Men’s Team to a 7-2 win over Slovenia on Sunday at the 2017 IIHF World Championship.
The win is the second in as many tries for Canada at worlds, and temporarily gives it sole possession of first place in Group B, although Finland and Norway can keep pace with victories later in the day.
Tyson Barrie (Victoria, B.C./Colorado, NHL) had a goal and three assists to join MacKinnon with four points, Travis Konecny (Clachan, Ont./Philadelphia, NHL) chipped in with three helpers, and Mitch Marner (Thornhill, Ont./Toronto, NHL) and Jeff Skinner (Toronto, Ont./Carolina, NHL) recorded a goal and an assist each.
Barrie got the Canadians on the board early; Wayne Simmonds (Scarborough, Ont./Philadelphia, NHL) left the puck at the blue-line for the Canadian defender, who got a wrist shot through bodies and over the glove of Slovenian goaltender Gasper Kroselj at the 4:30 mark.
MacKinnon poked in a loose puck to make it 2-0 at 14:36, and Brayden Point (Calgary, Alta./Tampa Bay, NHL) banked a centering pass off a skate and past Kroselj less than two minutes later to send Canada to the dressing room up 3-0.
MacKinnon took over early in the second period, finishing his hat trick before the clock hit six minutes.
He let Claude Giroux (Hearst, Ont./Philadelphia, NHL) do the work on his second goal, knocking in a rebound just shy of the five-minute mark of the middle frame to make it 4-0, and absolutely wired a wrist shot by Kroselj on the power play just 59 seconds later.
Jan Mursak finally put a puck past Canadian netminder Chad Johnson (Calgary, Alta./Calgary, NHL) late in the second period to get Slovenia on the board, but Marner outwaited Kroselj to restore the five-goal advantage and make it a 6-1 game after 40 minutes.
The teams traded goals in the third period; Skinner got a fortuitous bounce off a Slovenian stick to push the lead to 7-1 at 7:07, before Jan Urbas finished the scoring with 2:05 left.
Canada held Slovenia to just eight shots on goal in the final two period, and had a 51-14 advantage overall.
The Canadians are right back to action on Monday, returning to the ice at AccorHotels to meet Belarus (10:15 a.m. ET/7:15 a.m. PT). Canada has never lost in nine all-time meetings at worlds, allowing only three goals in the last five games.
“We’re a team that’s trying to build. It was good for us, we needed a day to regroup [after playing the Czechs] and they come off an emotional game and had to expend a lot of energy. It was one of those games where pucks were going in for us. We’re just trying to do things as a team, get better; Slovenia just kept coming at us [scoring with a couple of minutes left] and that’s a good sign of a competitive team.”
– Jon Cooper, Team Canada head coach on how they approached a team coming off back to back games
Since 1931, Canada has won the world championship 20 times – not counting the years when Olympic Winter Games champions were also considered world champion. The country has also collected 11 silver medals and six bronze in that timespan.