(AFP) – May 2, 2008
HALIFAX, Canada (AFP) — Forward Dany Heatley etched his name in the record books by scoring three goals as Canada crushed Slovenia 5-1 in their opening game at the IIHF World Hockey Championships on Friday.
The 27-year-old gap-toothed left winger boosted his goal total in the Worlds to 23, surpassing Marcel Dionne for the all-time Canadian lead.
"I've been to a few of these tournaments and played with a lot of good players over the years. It feels good," Heatley said.
In the other early game Friday, Radim Vrbata scored two goals and added two assists to power the Czech Republic to a 5-2 victory over Denmark at the Colisee arena in Quebec City.
Heatley's scoring binge Friday brought back memories of the 2003 NHL all-star game, when he scored four goals and was awarded the Most Valuable Player of the game award.
"Dany is the same way every night. He is a great hockey player and a great goal scorer," said Canada forward Ryan Getzlaf.
Canada is the host team for the Worlds for the first time in the 100 year history of the International Ice Hockey Federation.
Canada is trying to capture their 25th title and become the first country to win on home ice in 22 years.
This is the fifth Worlds for the Heatley who also played for Canada at the 2006 Turin Winter Games.
Heatley scored twice in the second period and once in the third as Canada outshot Slovenia 65-23 at the Halifax Metro Center arena.
Defenceman Dan Hamhuis opened the scoring for Canada just over three minutes into the first period.
Heatley made it 2-0 in the first minute of the second period by converting a nice pass from linemate Rick Nash at the side of the net. Joining Heatley and Nash on that line is Getzlaf making it one of the most dangerous lines in the tournament.
"We could have had 10 goals tonight. Their goalie played really well. Getzlaf and Nash hooked me up pretty good tonight," Heatley said.
Martin St. Louis scored halfway through the second on a slapshot from just inside the blueline that beat Slovenia goalie Robert Kristan to the glove side, giving Canada a three-goal lead.
Los Angeles Kings forward Anze Kopitar finished off a nice three-way passing play with a powerplay goal just two minutes later to get Slovenia on the board.
But that was all the scoring for Slovenia who are back playing in the Group A Worlds after being relagated to Group B last year.
Kristan was outstanding in net for Slovenia as Canada peppered him with shots, especially on the power plays. During one second period sequence, Kristan robbed several Canadians in a row before Heatley finally poked it in from the right side of the net to make it 4-1.
It was the 22nd goal in the Worlds for Heatley. Former Los Angeles King Dionne held the previous all-time Canadian mark with 21.
"I got the puck - I am going to put it on my mantle," Heatley said.
Kristan, with his charcoal-coloured goal pads, had to be at his acrobatic best in order to keep the score respectable as Canada out shot Slovenia 31-8 in the second period alone.
"It is hard for us to play the first game in Canada against Canada," Kristan said. "It was hard for everybody especially me just watching those red jerseys all over the defensive zone."
Slovenia captain Marcel Rodman said they were fortunate to keep the Canadians to five goals.
"A 5-1 result is not bad for us," Rodman said. "We had a great goalie. I have played with him a long so I know he can steal a game for us."
Heatley scored his third goal with just over 10 minutes left, streaking in on a breakaway then going high on the backhand.
Slovenia were promoted after winning the Group B tournament in 2007.
Kopitar is the top player for Slovenia and the only one currently playing in the NHL.
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