HALIFAX — After an extra-end nailbiter and a pair of close games, Canada has its first blowout win at the world men’s curling championship.

Skip Pat Simmons scored early and often in an 11-2 rout of the Czech Republic on Monday morning as Canada improved to 4-0.

“It’s a mental grind all week so if you can have a little bit of a breather that way, it’s nice for sure,” Simmons said.

Canada was alone in first place after six draws at Scotiabank Centre. Japan and Norway also posted victories to move into a second-place tie at 3-1.

Japan’s Yusuke Morozumi defeated China’s Jialiang Zang 9-5 and defending champion Thomas Ulsrud beat Scotland’s Ewan MacDonald 11-6. Finland’s Aku Kauste topped American John Shuster 7-4 in the other early game.

The Canadians opened the competition Saturday night with an extra-end victory over the U.S. and were pushed by China and Sweden the next day. On Monday, Czech skip Jiri Snitil opened the scoring before Simmons put up four points in the second end and then tacked on a pair of three-enders.

“It was one of those games where we made a couple key shots and it really completely changed the outlook of the game,” Simmons said.

Canadian team alternate Thomas Sallows picked up some ice time by entering the game in the fifth end, giving second Carter Rycroft a break. The Czechs conceded after the minimum six ends.

Canada will play Russia’s Evgeny Arkhipov on Monday night.

Round-robin play continues through Thursday. The Page playoffs begin Friday and the medal games are scheduled for Sunday.

Canada is hoping to return to the podium after settling for a fourth-place finish last year in Beijing.

Italy and Switzerland were tied in fourth place at 2-1. The Czechs and Finland were next at 2-2, followed by Russia and Sweden at 1-2.

China and the United States were 1-3 and Scotland remained winless at 0-4.

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