Great start for boys

KEN WIEBE -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 6:33 PM ET

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- Head coach Brent Sutter wasn't about to be deceived by the score, nor was he ready to lambaste his squad for a lapse they were able to bounce back from in the end.

Canada got away from the game plan after jumping out to a 4-0 advantage, but ultimately recovered to open the 2005 World Junior Hockey Championship with a 7-3 victory over Slovakia before a subdued crowd of 7,540 at Ralph Engelstad Arena.

"You're going to have bumps in the road along the way," said Sutter. "You're going to have some valleys to go through before you get to the peaks. It's good in the sense that we know we need to be better."

Canada's top line of Patrice Bergeron (two goals, two assists), Sidney Crosby (two goals) and Corey Perry (one assist) combined for four goals and seven points to pace the offensive attack.

Bergeron opened the scoring at 3:55 of the first after springing loose on a breakaway. Crosby followed it up with a redirection of a backhand pass from Perry at 10:59.

Bergeron got his second of the game 65 seconds into the second, banking a pass to himself off the back of the opposition goal before slipping the puck through Slovakian goalie Jaroslav Halak. Crosby found an opening on the backdoor to make it 4-0 at 9:52 of the second but shortly thereafter, momentum began to shift.

"When you're up 4-0, it's easy to make mental errors because you know you have a little bit of a cushion," said Crosby. "We can't do that. We have to make sure we keep the game tight and we keep playing defensively as we did at the start of the game. We can't make little errors."

Slovakia got on the board with a power play marker from Marek Zagrapan at 12:06 of the second, but Jeff Carter replied for Canada 32 seconds later to regain the four-goal advantage.

Stanislav Lascek, late in the second, and Peter Olvecky, 1:13 into the third, scored for Slovakia to make things interesting.

"We stopped hitting, we didn't get pucks in deep, we didn't get our the forecheck going and we didn't get the cycle going," said Canadian captain Mike Richards. "When you do that against a skilled team, they're going to make you look kind of stupid at some point, which they did.

"No matter if you're up or down, you've got to keep your foot on the gas."

Poor discipline threatened to make Canada's lead even more precarious as penalties to Richards and Bergeron left Slovakia with a 5-on-3 advantage for one minute and 18 seconds.

That's when the Canadian penalty killers buckled down and brought it home.

Eight seconds after the second minor penalty ended, Colin Fraser found Clarke MacArthur on a 2-on-1 rush and he made it 6-3, allowing Canada to breathe a little easier.

MacArthur rounded out the scoring by burying a penalty shot with seven seconds to play.

"The players respected Canada way too much in the beginning of the game," Slovakian head coach Dusan Gregor said through a translator.

Goalie Jeff Glass faced only three shots in the first period and looked a little shaky in the second, finishing the game with 20 saves.

Sutter said he will re-evaluate the goaltending situation on a day-to-day basis, but there's a decent chance Winnipegger Rejean Beauchemin could be between the pipes when Canada returns to action tomorrow afternoon against Sweden (3:38 p.m. TSN).


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