PARIS — Nathan MacKinnon expects to cool off at some point at the world hockey championship. Even if that happens, that doesn’t mean Canada’s offence will be any less dangerous.
MacKinnon and Brayden Point had two goals each to fuel Canada’s 6-0 win over Belarus at the world hockey championship on Monday.
MacKinnon had a hot hand for the second consecutive game and moved into the provisional tournament lead with five goals ahead of Monday’s late games. He scored a hat trick and added an assist in Canada’s 7-2 win over Slovenia on Sunday.
He’s not the only one putting up big numbers for Canada. MacKinnon, linemate Jeff Skinner and defenceman Tyson Barrie each have seven points through three games. Travis Konecny and Claude Giroux are right behind with six points.
“With the linemates I have (Giroux and Skinner), the power play we have, the opportunity I’m getting from the coaching staff, everyone makes it easy for me,” MacKinnon said. “Other guys will step up. I’m not going to get three or four points every night. I’m trying to play well both ways and see what happens.”
Point was named Canada’s player of the game after scoring his second and third goals as part of Canada’s “Kid Line” while his linemates Mitch Marner and Konecny each collected two assists on a line that is showing impressive early chemistry.
“I’m just getting them the puck,” said Konecny. “The passes are nothing special, to be honest. They’re playing really good and they’re finishing all the plays.”
“The kids are all right,” added coach Jon Cooper after the game. “I can’t sit here and pinpoint one guy that has been the engine that’s driven that bus.
“All three of them have just meshed together. I know that any time our team has maybe had a little bit of a lull, that line has sparked us.”
Skinner and Giroux also scored for Canada.
Playing without injured forward Andrei Kostitsyn and Canadian-born netminder Kevin Lalande, the Belarusian team played a conservative defensive game designed to limit scoring chances.
Netminder Mikhail Karnaukhov made 39 saves but was exposed on MacKinnon’s first goal, a power-play wrist shot from the top of the left circle that beat him high to the glove side and put Belarus down 2-0 at the 4:20 mark of the second period.
Making his second start of the tournament, Canada’s Calvin Pickard picked up his first shutout with 13 saves.
Sean Couturier debuted for Canada after missing the first two games of the tournament with what coach Jon Cooper had deemed a “mid-body” injury. “I felt a little off with the timing, but as the game went on, it got a little better,” said Couturier, who shared ice time on Canada’s fourth line with Brayden Schenn, Wayne Simmonds and Alex Killorn.
The Philadelphia Flyers forward was strong in the faceoff circle, going 10-2 on draws.
“I just try to go in there hard,” he said of his success. “My wingers were helping a lot too, so that’s huge.”
The two-time defending worlds champion, Canada remains first in Group B at 3-0. Finland and the Czech Republic, both 1-1, met in Monday’s late game in Paris.
In Group A action on Monday, Russia beat Germany 6-3 and Sweden met the United States in the late game.
On Thursday, Canada will line up for its next game against the host team from France. The French are currently 1-1 following their 5-1 upset win over Finland on Sunday.