MINSK, Belarus — France stunned Canada in their first game of the ice hockey world championships Friday, winning 3-2 after a shootout.
The other favorites avoided similar stumbles, as the United States and Russia both began their campaigns with big wins and the Czech Republic earned an overtime victory.
In Group B, the Americans brushed aside host Belarus 6-1 and Russia showed off its attacking power in a 5-0 win over last year’s runner-up Switzerland. The Czechs edged Slovakia 3-2 in their Group A game.
But the most memorable moment came earlier in the day when Pierre-Edouard Bellemare scored the only goal in the shootout for France, beating goalie James Reimer with a high shot in the opening Group A game.
“It’s big,” Bellemare said. “I’m proud of all the guys. It’s a team effort.”
Stephane Da Costa scored his second goal of the game for France to level it 2-2 in the third period and force an overtime period that ended scoreless.
Philadelphia Flyers forward Brayden Schenn and Florida Panthers defenseman Erik Gudbranson netted for Canada.
“France defended very well in front of their net,” Canada coach Dave Tippett said. “We didn’t create enough opportunities. It shows how hard this tournament is. It shows how hard teams are going to play against Canada. It’s a good lesson for our young players.”
France has traditionally been a pushover at the hockey worlds, but also shocked Canada 4-1 at the 1995 tournament and beat Russia 2-1 last year.
Winnipeg Jets defender Jacob Trouba scored twice for the U.S., while New York Islanders forwards Brock Nelson and Colin McDonald also added goals, along with Johnny Gaudreau of the Calgary Flames and Jake Gardiner of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“I liked the competiveness of our guys,” U.S. head coach Peter Laviolette said.
Andrei Stepanov netted the consolation goal for Belarus in front of a roaring home crowd of some 15,000 spectators.
Jaromir Jagr tied the game for the Czechs at 2-2 with 2:07 left in regulation before Jakub Klepis scored the winner 1:50 into overtime.
Russia’s high-scoring team got goals from Sergei Plotnikov, Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin, Vadim Shipachyov, Anton Belov and Danis Zaripov. Goaltender Sergei Bobrovski of the Columbus Blue Jackets recorded the shutout.
“We played very well as a team,” Bobrovski said.
Russia needed just 13 seconds to open the scoring through Plotnikov, and Ovechkin doubled the lead six minutes later with a powerful slap shot on a power play. Ovechkin also added an assist.
“We did some good things but when you don’t score a goal it’s difficult to win any game, obviously,” Swiss coach Sean Simpson said.