TORONTO -- It was just over three months ago that Sidney Crosby was hoisting the Stanley Cup in San Jose after the Pittsburgh Penguins' Game Six victory over the Sharks. Did a short offseason bother No. 87? Not a bit.
Crosby singlehandedly dominated Team Canada's World Cup of Hockey opener Saturday night, collecting a goal and two assists in a 6-0 victory over the Czech Republic at Air Canada Centre.
Crosby scored the game's first goal at 8:26 of the first period, won the faceoff to set up Brad Marchand's tip-in of a Brent Burns shot at 17:08 and created a turnover that led to Patrice Bergeron's tally that beat the horn with seven-tenths of a second left. That one was essentially Czech mate. Crosby was also a plus-4 in the game and did his magic while playing just 13:04 on Canada's top line with Boston teammates Bergeron and Marchand.
"I feel good," Crosby said. "The fact that I played late into June I think and you're stepping into this level helps with adjusting. Finding chemistry as a line has helped. With our team, there's so much speed and depth if we get things rolling, it helps.
"I thought we played hard and we worked. It didn't come easy. We had to work for that and we got rewarded."
On the scoresheet: Marchand and Bergeron each scored a goal while Marchand added two assists. Other goals were by Jonathan Toews, Joe Thornton and Alex Pietrangelo. John Tavares added two assists.
In the Nets, Part I: Canada goaltender Carey Price (Montreal) stopped all 27 shots he faced in his first official game in 11 months. Price, who missed most of last season with a knee injury, did appear in Canada's exhibition play.
In the Nets, Part II: Czech goalie Michal Neuvirth, the former Sabre, played admirably despite the loss. Neuvirth made 45 saves -- including 19 saves on 21 shots in the second period -- and several were spectacular. He stoned Crosby with a glove spear on a breakaway in the first minute of play and made a sprawling stop on a Steven Stamkos one-timer in the second period.
The O'Reilly Factor: Sabres center Ryan O'Reilly had one shot on goal while playing 14:28. He also got 3:11 of time on the penalty kill as Canada held the Czechs off in all six of their chances. He played mostly with Ryan Getzlaf on the PK.
O'Reilly on the PK: "That's how I broke into the league, through penalty-killing. In juniors it was something I took pride in and it was my first role in the NHL. I always feel comfortable going out there and it's easy to go out there with Price in the net, the D you have."
O'Reilly on Crosby: "He's the best player in the world and you see it in everything he does. The passes he handles, everything at top speed."
Numbers game: Toews is wearing No. 16 for the tournament, rather than the customary No. 19 he wears in Chicago. Toews has explained that he's keeping the number that he's successfully worn during international play, including the Sochi Olympics.
Drawing the lines: Canada can put together some ridiculous trios. Here's the rundown Saturday: Crosby is between Marchand and Bergeron. The second line was Getzlaf between Stamkos and Tavares. The third line was Toews between Corey Perry and Logan Couture, and the fourth line had O'Reilly between Thornton and Matt Duchene.
In the house: The crowd was announced as a sellout of 18,978. Although there were a few no-shows sprinkled in the lower bowl, it was a loud, red-clad gathering nonetheless.
Up next: Canada meets Team USA Tuesday night at 8 while the Czechs meet Team Europe Monday at 3.