Team Canada passed its first test Tuesday, defeating the Czech Republic 3-0 in an IIHF World Hockey Championship pre-tournament game in Prague.
Connor McDavid, Ryan O’Reilly and Matt Duchene scored for Canada, while Cam Talbot and Calvin Pickard combined for the 19-save shutout in the Canadian net.
The game was a cagey encounter as both teams cycled through line combinations in an attempt to build chemistry before the tournament gets underway on Friday.
O’Reilly opened the scoring for Canada, tipping home a shot by Morgan Rielly early on in the first. Matt Duchene doubled the Canadian lead just two minutes later, finishing off a nice feed from Max Domi.
Talbot got the start in the Canadian net, and was solid when called upon, stopping all 11 shots he faced. He was replaced halfway through the second period by Pickard.
With the goalie switch, the Czechs increased the pressure. Pickard was forced to come up with his biggest save of the game, stoning Richard Jarusek in tight to preserve the shutout through two periods.
Canada looked to add to their lead on the power play in the third period, but Dominik Furch held his ground despite several great chances orchestrated by McDavid.
The Edmonton Oilers star would not be denied as he added to the Canadian league halfway through the third, snapping one top shelf past Furch to complete the scoring.
If Canada has an area to improve, it would be their power play as they finished the contest 0-for-3; however Duchene said he realizes the best is yet to come.
“We are only to get better as the tournament goes on,” the Haliburton native said after the game.
Team Canada was without Corey Perry in this one. The Anaheim Ducks winger took the warm-up, but was not in the lineup for puck drop despite his protests to head coach Bill Peters.
Peters said he was looking forward to the tournament to get underway.
“This is an exciting time for our team; we now have the complete group together,” said Peters. “This is an energetic young team that has a lot of speed. [This game] was the first of four phases for us – we are excited to start the preliminary-round games. Everything builds from this point on.”