INNSBRUCK -- Joe Thornton refers to Rick Nash as "a highlight reel."
The two played together in Davos, Switzerland, this year, and Thornton got to see plenty of Nash's goals. Yesterday, when Team Canada opened the world hockey championship with a 6-4 win over Latvia, he got to see three more.
"He is great in front of the net," Thornton said. "He has the knack of scoring big goals. He's going to score a lot in this tournament."
"It's a good start," said Nash when asked about his hat trick. "It's kind of hard not to get chances and opportunities when you're playing with these guys, especially Joe Thornton and Simon Gagne. It's just a matter of finishing your opportunities.
"Their fans pretty well filled the arena and we knew we were in a tough game. It seemed like every time we scored they came right back with one. But our line played well and Jovo (Ed Jovanovski) made a good pass on the first goal."
DROVE TO NET
He did. It was on the third Canadian power play and Jovanovski rifled a pass onto Nash's stick for a relatively easy goal.
But on the next one, Nash did all the work. He drove to the net all the way from the blue line, with one hand on his stick and a Latvian defender trying to steer him off.
"I didn't expect to score there," Nash said. "I just wanted to take it to the net and maybe cause a rebound or a penalty or something. I was lucky and it went in."
That spelled the end of the game for Latvian goaltender Edgars Masalskis.
The hat trick was completed on a nice setup from Thornton, who had the puck behind the net and spotted Nash in front. Nash quickly snapped it past Arturs Irbe, the only goal that Irbe allowed.
But as far as Irbe was concerned, the result was a good one for Latvia.
"I'm elated," Irbe said. "It was a great effort and a little bit surprising. We were hoping to stay close but we weren't expecting to score four. Our scoring has been lacking.
Unlike Rick Nash's.