HALIFAX – Team Canada may have found a second weapon to complement the Rick Nash line. The duo of Eric Staal and Martin St. Louis combined for four goals and ten scoring points today, leading their team to a 10-1 romp over Germany this afternoon at the Metro Centre before 9,182 fans.
The win keeps Canada atop Group F with 12 points while Germany still has no points to show in the Qualification Round. Finland is second with eight points but has played one fewer game.
Canada’s puck pursuit, along with aggressively getting in the lane of German shooters, keyed the victory at both ends of the ice. Staal had four goals and an assist to lead the way, and St. Louis had five assists. Dany Heatley added his tournament-leading seventh goal. Canada incurred just two minor penalties.
"Obviously, you want to help out on the offensive side as much as you can," Staal said. "Tonight was one of those nights when the puck kept finding my stick and going in."
"Maybe we had too much respect for them," German forward Christoph Schubert said after the game. "We made simple mistakes, and they took advantage of them."
Jason Spezza finally got the scoring monkey off his back at 5:14 of the first period when he took a pass in centre ice, skated down the right side, and after faking a pass to Jason Chimera in the middle fooled goalie Dimitrij Kotschnew with a low shot between the pads. It was Spezza’s first goal and only second point of the tournament.
Canada went up 2-0 on a great play by defenceman Dan Hamhuis. He blocked a long outlet pass at his own blueline by going down on one knee and controlling the puck with his glove, then pushed the puck ahead to Heatley. Heatley entered the German end at moderate speed and then turned on the afterburners and blew by the defence. Kotschnew stopped the first shot but Heatley poked in the rebound for the goal.
Then it was the Eric Staal-Martin St. Louis-Derek Roy line that started to click. St. Louis made a nice touch pass from behind the net to Staal in front, and again the goalie made the first save but his defence didn’t help out and Staal buried the rebound.
"We've been working hard in practise to get the chemistry together," Roy said of his line. "We missed a bunch of chances in our last few games. It was time to get things going."
If that wasn’t enough, Canada added a fourth goal with 22.8 seconds left in the period when Patrick Sharp’s pass to the side of the goal deflected off a German skate and past a surprised Kotschnew. The 4-0 lead pretty much sealed the victory.
German coach Uwe Krupp replaced Kotschnew with Robert Mueller to start the second, but Mueller put in an awful period for the Germans, allowing five goals. Staal scored a highlight-reel goal at 3:42 on the power play. He took a nice little touch pass from St. Louis along the right boards, dipsy-doodled past two defenders, and buried a shot to the far side to make it 5-0.
Midway through the period, Staal completed his hat trick by jamming home a loose puck that Mueller couldn’t hold, and a few minutes later Derek Roy popped home a loose puck as well. Staal’s fourth was a one-handed swat at a rebound, but the ninth goal was the worst. Mueller mishandled the puck behind his goal while the Germans were on the power play, shooting the puck around the boards to Jamal Mayers who deposited it into the empty net.
"It was just reaction," Staal said of his final goal. "THe puck was just lying there and I just swatted at it with one hand. It was one of those nights when things like that happen."
Mike Green added a goal in the third to finish the scoring for Canada. Frank Hordler scored the only goal for the Germans when it was 10-0, making a superb dash down the ice and getting a lucky bounce off Hamhuis's stick and past goalie Cam Ward.
"We weren't mentally ready," Schubert admitted. "We sat there in the morning watching tape. We know how we can play."
Canada plays its final game of the Qualification Round on Monday against Finland, a game that will likely decide who finishes first in the group. This has significant implications because the top team will play the fourth team in the group, almost certain to be Norway or Latvia, while the second place team will face a tougher opponent in either Finland or United States. Germany finishes its tournament later on Monday against Latvia.