PARIS â€” By his own admission he wasn’t winning any points for style, but Nathan MacKinnon’s offensive output helped power Canada to another strong performance at the world hockey championship.
MacKinnon scored a hat trick to lift Canada to a 7-2 win over Slovenia on Sunday. The victory at AccorHotels Arena in Paris improved Canada’s record to 2-0.
“I thought the puck was following me around,” said MacKinnon, who was named Canada’s player of the game. “I had a couple of greasy goals.”
MacKinnon also added an assist while Colorado Avalanche teammate Tyson Barrie had a goal and three assists. Barrie now leads all players in the tournament with six points.
“I’ve just been playing with good guys,” Barrie said when asked about the secret to his early-tournament success. “I haven’t really done anything too spectacular. It’s just a mixture of trying to jump in the play and be available. These guys…there’s obviously so much skill on this team, they’ll find you.”
Brayden Point, Mitch Marner and Jeff Skinner also had goals for Canada while Travis Konecny added three assists.
Chad Johnson made 12 saves in his first start of the tournament.
“It’s a little different than in North America with the ice surface and everything,” Johnson said of his tournament debut. “It was nice to get in there.”
The Canadians built a 5-0 lead before Slovenia got on the scoreboard, with Jan Mursak and Jan Urbas recording a goal each.
“We got a lesson in how to play hockey today and I think, and hope, that we learned something,” summed up Slovenia’s coach Nik Zupancic after the game.
Gasper Kroselj faced 51 shots in Slovenia’s net. He was making his second start in as many days after giving up four goals on 15 shots in the first period of Slovenia’s 5-4 shootout loss to Switzerland on Saturday.
“It was one of those gamesâ€¦pucks were going in for us,” said Canada’s coach Jon Cooper, who believed his team was able to benefit from Slovenia’s tough schedule. “They came off an emotional game where they were down and came back to tie, having expended a lot of energy. That was one of the things we wanted to talk aboutâ€¦trying to take advantage of that on teams that play back-to-backs.”
Against Canada, Slovenia was without forward Ziga Jeglic, who was serving the first game of a two-game suspension for a kicking incident Saturday.
Canada, the two-time defending champion, is first in Group B. In later games Sunday in Paris, France shocked Finland 5-1 and Switzerland blanked Norway 3-0.
In Group A action in Cologne, Germany, Russia beat Italy 10-1, the U.S. downed Denmark 7-2 and Latvia defeated Slovakia 3-1.
Canada faces its first back-to-back situation as it takes on 0-2 Belarus on Monday. Cooper is planning to go back to Calvin Pickard in net. He backstopped the Canadians to a 4-1 win over the Czechs in their first game of the tournament.
Carol Schram, The Canadian Press
Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version had Slovakia instead of Slovenia in the first paragraph.