HELSINKI - Canada vs. Kazakhstan was a world hockey championship first.
And for an uncomfortably long time it looked like it could become another first in a much more memorable way.
While the Kazakhs had previously made it to the tournament five times, they'd never before ended up in the same pool as Canada. And despite playing with 18 skaters to Canada's 22 due to injuries, the nation which shocked the Worlds by taking the U.S. to overtime in a 3-2 loss -- which produced their only point in the standings -- looked like they might be manufacturing something well into this game.
In the end, however, Canada skated to an expected 8-0 blowout win to stay on top of the Helsinki pool. And as watchable as the game the night before was against Finland, in the end this one probably made them draw the drapes in the sauna suite.
The team, which came to the tournament with 16 players from Barys Astana in the KHL and had moral victories in losing 4-2 to Slovakia and 3-2 to Belarus, was 0-0 against the Canadians 15 minutes into the game.
"Team Canada is such a good team, we were expecting our players should play the best they can," said coach Andrei Shayanov.
"We hoped they could do it today. But Canada kept coming ..."
On the second of consecutive power plays, Dion Phaneuf blasted one from the point to beat Vitali Kolesnik in the Kazakhstan cage to make it 1-0 before the period expired.
It should have been tied 1-1 in the second when Roman Savchenko had a wide open net behind Devan Dubnyk and put it over the gaping twine.
"It was fresh ice at the start of the period and I slid too far. Fortunately their guy missed the net," said the netminder who has a 1.00 goals against average for the tournament after playing in Canada's 7-2 win over France as well.
A wrap-around by Corey Perry and Alexandre Burrows scoring his second goal in his second game back from a concussion as Jordan Eberle sent him in and then was corked by Vladislav Kolesnikov coming out of the penalty box, made it 3-0 after two periods.
Evander Kane, John Tavares and Teddy Purcell scored three faster than you could write them down early in the third to chase Kolesnik. The three in 50 seconds was 19 seconds short of the world championship record.
After the goaltending change, Phaneuf blasted another one home and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored his third of the tournament before it was over to declare eight to be enough.
The Kazakhstan squad ended the game with a 5-on-3 situation but Dubnyk preserved the shutout with 22 saves.
"They called a time out," said Dubnyk.
"The score was 8-0. I was joking with the referee that there was only 50 seconds left. 'Let's get out of here!'"
Phaneuf said it was close to the game Canada believes they'd be in following their big win over Finland Friday.
"We expected a tight game early. We respected them as an opponent after the game they had against the Americans.
"We just wanted to keep playing our game and I think we did what we wanted to do. We played a solid game," he added.
"We were guarded against a letdown after an emotional win the previous night," said coach Brent Sutter.
"It wasn't just about winning a game as making sure our habits were all good habits," he said, adding that he didn't dress Ryan O'Reilly who had lower body soreness, electing to go with a dozen forwards and eight defencemen, bringing junior Ryan Murray back for another game.
"Going with four pairs on defence gave us a chance to play Duncan Keith and Jay Bouwmeester six or eight minutes less."
Canada has only one game remaining in the round robin, Tuesday against Belarus. The team welcomed brothers Andrei and Sergei Kostitsyn of the Nashville Predators to their midst for a 5-1 loss to Slovakia Saturday.
With the win, Canada now has 16 points, Finland with 12, the U.S. with 10, Slovakia with nine and Switzerland and France with six each.
Barring a massive upset –- Canada is undefeated against the men mostly from Minsk -– the defending Olympic gold medal winners will finish first.
The remaining games to decide the quarterfinalists and playoff matchups feature Finland-U.S. and Switzerland-Slovakia Sunday, Finland-Kazakhstan Monday and U.S.-Switzerland Tuesday.