Jonathan Toews assisted on all three of Canada’s power-play goals Wednesday, including Rick Nash’s winner in a 5-4 victory over Slovakia.
Defencemen Cory Murphy, Eric Brewer and Dan Hamhuis also scored for Canada (3-0), which plays Belarus in its first game of the qualifying round Friday (10:15 a.m. ET). Forward Jamal Mayers had the other goal for Canada.
Branko Radivojevic, Marian Hossa, Marek Uram and Miro Satan replied for Slovakia (2-1).
Canada twice blew a two-goal lead in the game and found itself tied early in the third period when Satan scored after goaltender Dwayne Roloson had lost the puck behind his own goal.
But Nash got the winning goal at 9:02 when he tipped Murphy’s point shot past Slovak goalie Jaroslav Halak of the Montreal Canadiens. Nash had several near-misses in the game and the Columbus Blue Jackets sniper pumped his fists with excitement after finally scoring.
Canada’s Shane Doan played his first game since having his captaincy debated in the House of Commons. It didn’t seem to have much affect the team as it passed its first true test at the tournament.
It was pretty evident right from the opening faceoff that Canada was about to leave the preliminary round behind.
The Slovaks came out skating and were spurred on by a large pocket of enthusiastic fans. The jersey-clad supporters got real loud 2:05 in when Jurcina’s point shot on the power play made it through a crowd and beat Canadian goalie Dwayne Roloson.
Murphy tied it 90 seconds later while Canada was on a power play. The defenceman, who was recently signed by the Florida Panthers, one-timed a point shot over Halak’s glove.
The pace of the game was much better than in Canada’s opening wins over Germany and Norway and it would only get more intense in the second period.
Mayers got his third goal in as many games 25 seconds in by burying a pass from linemate Jason Chimera from behind the goal. The pair have connected in a similar way on all three of Mayers’s goals.
The lead went to 3-1 when Toews held onto the puck on a power play and fed a perfect pass through the four Slovak defenders. Brewer pinched in from the point and lifted the puck over Halak’s shoulder at 11:27.
But the Slovaks got back to 3-2 when Brewer turned the puck over to Hossa a little over a minute later. He danced in and pulled the puck around Roloson’s poke check for his first goal of the tournament.
Hamhuis restored the two-goal lead for Canada when he jumped in from the point and lifted a rebound over Halak at 15:09, but Uram slipped behind Dion Phaneuf and took a long breakaway pass before beating Roloson high over the glove to cut it to 4-3 heading to the third period.
Notes: Phaneuf, the Calgary Flames defenceman, played his first game for Canada. He assisted on Brewer’s goal . . . The Canadian players wore the team’s black third jersey during the game. They will be auctioned off on EBay from May 4 to 14th . . . Slovakia entered the tournament ranked sixth in the world while Canada was fourth.