Ryan Smyth scored twice as Canada cruised to a 5-1 victory over injury-weakened Slovakia on Wednesday for their second win in as many nights at the World Cup of Hockey.
Canada, which beat the United States 2-1 on Tuesday night, improved to 2-0 in the tournament and is now guaranteed a home game for the quarter-finals next Wednesday in Toronto. For a second straight game, Martin St. Louis had a goal and an assist while Joe Thornton and Simon Gagne also scored for Canada.
Martin Cibak scored in the third period for Slovakia, which played its first game ever in the World Cup. They missed the inaugural tournament in 1996. Canadian defenceman Wade Redden left the game early in the third period with an undisclosed injury - the team's second injury on defence in as many games.
Canada learned before the game they have lost Ed Jovanovski for the remainder of the tournament with a cracked rib and a strained right knee ligament suffered against the U.S. A sellout crowd of 21,273 at the Bell Centre wasn't quite as noisy as they were with the rival Americans, but saw plenty of action in a wide-open game with scoring chances at both ends of the ice.
The Slovaks, already missing Zigmund Palffy, Michal Handzus, Peter Bondra and Ivan Majesky to injuries, got another setback on Wednesday when Montreal Canadiens right-winger Richard Zednik was taken to hospital and missed the match with food poisoning.
Slovakia made a surprise decision to start Rastislav Stana in goal instead of usual No. 1 Jan Lasak and saw him beaten twice in the first five minutes. Thornton stripped towering defenceman Zdeno Chara from behind in front of the Slovak net and scored 3:02 into the game.
Smyth skated out from behind the net and slid the puck past Stana at 4:43.
A power play had just ended when Brad Richards fed St. Louis for a blast into an open side 58 seconds into the third period, but Cibak got it back at 4:53 when he banged in Lubos Bartecko's rebound after a turnover in the Canadian zone. Smyth streaked in to score on Vincent Lecavalier's rebound at 7:11. Lecavalier and defenceman Adam Foote each has two assists.<
Canada closes out round robin play Saturday against Russia in Toronto.
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Brad Pascall Vice-President, Hockey Operations