What, Canada worry?

AL STRACHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:43 AM ET

INNSBRUCK -- Netminders who allow four goals in a game, especially when one appeared to be a spectacular save, usually are not in a good mood after a game.

However, Martin Brodeur of Team Canada, who doesn't ruffle easily, was relaxed and joking after a 6-4 victory over Latvia in the opening game of the world hockey championship yesterday.

It wasn't that he took Team Canada's occasionally sloppy performance lightly. But he has enough perspective to know that a game like that can be whatever you make of it.

"We had to fight through adversity," Brodeur said, "and hopefully it's something we will take as a positive. We could have just gone in and won 8-1 and everybody would have been happy, but this keeps our two feet on the ground and makes us say, 'Well, we've got to start playing hockey.'

"We can't just go through the motions and say, 'Well, we'll score six goals and allow four goals and we'll always be on top.' It's a process."

That sentiment was echoed by a number of Canadians.

INTERESTING GAME

"It definitely was an interesting game," Canadian coach Marc Habscheid said. "There were lots of ebbs and flows to it. Lots of goals. It was entertaining for the fans.

"It was a difficult environment in which to play and we didn't really make it easy on ourselves. There were some turnovers. The guys are excited to play and the effort is great but some decisions we want to clean up a little bit.

"It was a good game. We learned some things."

Said forward Shane Doan, "It was a win and it's important to get that. It wasn't the prettiest, but give them credit. They (Latvia) played well and they didn't quit."

That's true. After Brendan Morrison opened the scoring only 2:55 into the game, the raucous Latvian fans who packed the arena were a little less exuberant.

But they didn't stay that way for long. Only 34 seconds later, Aleksanders Semjenovs was left unattended at the side of the net and beat Brodeur.

In the second period, the Canadians went ahead once more, this time on a goal by Joe Thornton. But again, the Latvians tied it.

That was the one Brodeur didn't like. It appeared to be a spectacular glove save on Girts Ankipans, but was ruled a goal after a video review.

"I take it as a save, personally," Brodeur said with a laugh. "I thought it was right on the line, but who knows? They know better, I guess. They called it a goal.

"The referee said, 'You know, I'm an old goalie too, so I know how you feel.' "

Brodeur shrugged and chuckled again. "If you make that big a save they should just call it even."

Shortly afterward the Canadians opened up a big lead. Rick Nash and Patrick Marleu scored -- thereby giving the Canadians four goals on four power plays -- and then Nash fought off a defender to jam home another goal to make the score 5-2.

But in the third period the Canadians got a bit sloppy again and the Latvians refused to quit. With 11 minutes left, the lead had been narrowed to 5-4.

The Latvian fans were going wild but the Canadian team was calm and poised.

"You can't be nervous with the team we have," Thornton said. "We knew we were going to get the next goal."

And they did. Once again, Nash was the scorer, completing his hat trick and putting the game out of reach.

"The result was nice," Brodeur said. "The game? I thought we did some good stuff. I thought our power play was great. Our penalty killing was unbelievable. But the way we played defensively, some mistakes were made.

"It's an adjustment. We'll be better, definitely. There were a lot of great things we saw today. I think a 6-4 win over Latvia, everybody in Canada will be unhappy about that, but we won the game."


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