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2015 IIHF World Championship: Mike Smith, Team USA shine in early action

The Coyotes' goaltender turned in another strong performance, and the United States started the World Championship on a high note.

Photo Courtesy of Getty Images
Photo Courtesy of Getty Images
Matej Divizna/Getty Images

Several members of the Arizona Coyotes posted solid performances in today's two early games at the 2015 IIHF World Championship in the Czech Republic.

USA 5, Finland 1

The United States have more Coyotes on their roster than any other team at the tournament, with Connor Murphy, John Moore, and Mark Arcobello all proudly sporting the red, white, and blue. All would positively contribute to the team's victory against last year's silver medal recipients.

Murphy and Moore played significant time paired together.  Dave Tippett and Don Maloney are likely to be watching with interest as they try to determine pairings for next season.

Though Arcobello, Murphy, and Moore would all play solid minutes and would keep the Americans clean on the penalty kill, the damage on offense was done by Matt Hendricks (who scored twice), Nick Bonino, Dan Sexton, and Steve Moses. It was a quality win for Team USA over a quality Finland team which included Vezina trophy finalist Pekka Rinne in net and former Coyote Sami Lepisto on the blueline.

Canada 6, Latvia 1

Team Canada's opener was more of a glorified tune-up than a competitive game. Canada led tape-to-tape thanks to goals from Nathan MacKinnon, Jason Spezza (twice), Matt Duchene, Tyler Toffoli, and Sidney Crosby (on this gorgeous penalty shot:)

Mike Smith was in net for Canada, and he turned in yet another strong performance after finishing the NHL regular season on a tear for Arizona. Smitty stopped 15 of 16 shots (Ottawa Senators prospect Kaspars Daugavins was the only Latvian to solve Smith), while Canada gave him more than enough offense to earn the win.

Tonight's Games

A couple more Coyotes will play in the nightcaps tonight. Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Team Sweden will play Martin Erat and the host nation Czech Republic, while former Coyotes' prospect Viktor Tikhonov will take to the ice for Russia against Norway. Both of those games get underway at 11:15 AM Arizona time.

Be sure to check back here at Five For Howling throughout the tournament for updates on how Coyotes' players are faring as the Championship goes on.