Cody Hodgson had a hat trick and Matt Read scored twice to lead Canada’s 6-1 rout of Denmark at the ice hockey world championship on Thursday.
Defending champion Sweden edged France 2-1, Finland downed Belarus 2-0, and the United States suffered a second straight loss, 6-5 to Latvia.
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"There was a good chemistry today and it’s nice to contribute," Hodgson said. "I’m just feeling more comfortable."
Hodgson said the group stage was just a warm-up for the playoffs. Canada, with three wins out of four, was in a race with unbeaten Sweden to win their eight-team Group A. The top four advance to the quarterfinals.
"It doesn’t matter what you do in these exhibitions as long as we get to the quarterfinals and semifinals and eventually finals," Hodgson said. "We’re only here for one goal."
Denmark answered Hodgson’s first with a goal from Nicklas Jensen in the first period but a Hodgson slap shot beat goaltender Patrick Galbraith in the second, and Read scored his pair in the third, the second one while short-handed.
Jonathan Huberdeau netted the fifth, and Hodgson rounded off the result on a power play.
For Sweden, which meets Canada on Sunday, Joel Lundquist and Oscar Moller scored 17 seconds apart in the second. Stephane Da Costa got the lone French goal.
"We’re happy with the three points but we know we have to play better later on here," Lundquist, the Sweden captain, said.
Latvia earned its third win over the U.S. at the worlds.
Zemgus Girgensons squeezed the puck between the pads of veteran goaltender Tim Thomas to break a 4-4 tie in the third, and Herberts Vasiljevs made it 6-4 with the winner with 2:21 left.
Brock Nelson’s second goal for the U.S. with 1:30 remaining in regulation was too late.
Latvia goalie Kristers Gudlevskis made 31 saves, while Thomas stopped 19 shots.
Goals from Gints Meija, Mikelis Redhlins and Aleksandrs Nizivijs gave Latvia 3-1 lead but Nelson and Tyler Johnson scored on power-plays to tie it up in the second period.
"Six goals is just too many (to concede)," scoring defenseman Seth Jones said. "We are doing a lot of good things but have to tighten up defensively. We can’t let teams get too close to the net."
Petri Kontiola scored both goals, the second into an empty net, for Finland’s second victory.
Russia leads their group, followed by Lativa, then Finland, Belarus and the U.S.