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Canada forward Sidney Crosby (87) controls the puck against Norway defenseman Ole-Kristian Tollefsen (55) during the second period of a men's hockey game at the Bolshoy Ice Dome during Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014. Canada defeated Norway, 3-1. (Chuck Myers/MCT)

Blackhawks begin Olympic play, as United States and Canada roll

SOCHI, Russia -- Patrick Kane's postgame plans included a phone call to discuss his day in Russia with his father back in the United States.

The Team USA winger had plenty to talk about -- as did five other Blackhawks who took the ice Thursday in the men's hockey tournament of the Winter Games in Sochi.

It was a mixed bag for the group, with Kane helping the U.S. hammer Slovakia, 7-1, and Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp and Duncan Keith part of Canada's 3-1 victory over Norway.

At the other end of the spectrum, Slovaks Marian Hossa and Michal Handzus were on the receiving end of Team USA's dominating performance. No matter the outcomes, the players were thrilled to be representing their countries.

"All of these guys have played in big games and have been in pressure situations, but I don't think anything compares to playing for Team Canada," said Toews, who didn't get a shot off in 16 minutes, 15 seconds of ice time. "I don't care who you are, there are still some nerves and still some excitement. Once you get through that you just go out there and play your best."

It was Sharp's first appearance in the Olympics after failing to make the Canada squad that won the gold in the 2010 Vancouver Games. The winger didn't record a shot on goal in 14:21 while playing on a line with Toews and Rick Nash.

"I'm excited to be here," Sharp said. "I feel like I deserve to be here. I just want to have a good tournament and help my team win whatever way I can."

The players saw their first game action since making the long journey from the U.S. to Russia and are still shaking off jet lag despite three days of practices.

"Just like the rest of the guys, I felt better as the game went along," Keith said. "I just hope I keep getting better as the tournament goes along. I'm feeling better, but still different with the time change and adjusting to the big ice and things like that. I just want to peak at the right time."

Kane, who had two assists in the USA's offensive onslaught against Slovakia, was semi-chagrined that he failed to find the back of the net while six of his U.S. teammates were able to do just that.

"For some reason, throughout my career I've never really played well in those big blowout games," Kane said. "I don't know why."

Hossa had a strong game for Slovakia, thanks in part to playing on a line with Hawks teammate Handzus and fellow winger Tomas Tatar. The veteran led Team Slovakia with 18:59 of ice time and assisted on Tatar's goal.

"It's bigger ice, so we had a little more room," Hossa said. "When we had the puck, I felt good. The line, I felt we had a couple of great ... scoring opportunities and I'm sure as the tournament goes on it's going to get more comfortable."

Kane's phone calls to his father, Pat Sr., in Buffalo, N.Y., will continue as the Games progress.

"He's always interested to hear different things and what's going on," Patrick Kane said. "I try to talk to him as much as possible."

Has the elder Pat doled out any advice?

"He thinks it's a big stage so he wants me to be as ready as possible for every game," Kane said. "Try to take control a little bit. Other than that, it's pretty much, 'Have fun and play your best out there.' "

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HOCKEY


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