Host Latvia beats Canada 2-0 in world hockey opener

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Canada's Michael Bunting challenges for the puck with Latvia's Martins Karsums during the Ice Hockey World Championship group B match between Canada and Latvia at the Arena in Riga, Latvia, Friday, May 21, 2021. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

RIGA – Matiss Kivlenieks made 38 saves and host Latvia beat Canada 2-0 on Friday in their world hockey opener.

Miks Indrasis opened the scoring with 1.5 seconds left in the first period, beating goaltender Darcy Kuemper between the pads. Oskars Batna made it 2-0 on a tip-in midway through the second period.

“We knew that Canada didn’t play a lot together so we wanted to take advantage,” Indrasis said. “I think we played well, scored a couple of goals, and it was enough to win the game.”

Latvia beat Canada for the first time in 12 meetings in the tournament, handing the Canadian their third straight opening games in the event.

“It was frustrating,” Canadian forward Connor Brown said. “We had a lot of chances to score but didn’t get enough bodies to the net. We’ve been here for a couple of days and are still getting together, lines are still sorting each other out. It will be OK. Let’s put it behind us, learn from it, and get better. There’s a lot of learning curves. In the third period, we played much better and started to understand how to create offence a little more.”

Kivlenieks plays for the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets. Kuemper made 15 saves for Canada.

Canada will face the United States on Sunday. The United States will open Group B play Saturday against Finland.

In the other Group B game Friday, Marcel Noebels scored twice to help Germany rout Italy 9-4.

In Group A, Mikhail Grigorenko scored with 19 seconds left to give Russia a 4-3 victory over the Czech Republic, and Kristian Pospisil scored twice in Slovakia's 5-2 victory over Belarus.