Rookie Lee Sweatt, playing his first NHL game, scored the game winning goal in the third period to give the Vancouver Canucks a 2-1 come from behind victory over the Nashville Predators.
All the scoring took place in the final period after two periods of defensive scoreless hockey. Shea Weber scored first for the Preds and Alexander Burrows tied the game before Sweatt gave the Canucks the victory on his first NHL goal.
It was a classic match between two of the best goalies in the Western Conference for two periods with neither team able to score. Roberto Luongo got the win stopping 26 of 27 shots, while his counterpart, Pekka Rinne made 33 saves in the losing effort.
Vancouver improved their home record to 17-3-5 while Luongo extended his point streak to 17 games going 12-0-5 since December 5th. The Canucks are now tied with Philadelphia with 71 points for the best record in the league. The Predators finished their road trip 3-3 and remain in fourth place in the Western Conference with 60 points.
The first period was very competitive with both team’s aggressive defense creating penalties accounting for half of the period involving special team play. The Canucks were whistled for three infractions while the Preds took two.
The Predators had a couple of excellent scoring chances late in the period but could not convert. They outshot the Canucks, 12-4, in the first 20 minutes.
The second period was more of the same intense end to end action but the tide appeared to be turning in the Canucks’ favor. Vancouver picked up a pair of penalties while the Preds only had one, but the Canucks had several scoring chances on their man advantage.
The Canucks were more wide open in the second, outshooting the Preds, 14-8.
The final period was an offensive explosion compared to the first two. Weber scored his ninth goal of the season to give the Preds a 1-0 lead at 37 seconds on a second chance goal from the slot after Luongo went down and opened up the top of the net.
Burrows came back to tie the game 1-1 at 10:39 on a rebound shot in the crease after defensive confusion in front of the net. The go ahead goal came from Sweatt at 12:31 after Joel Ward fell at the blue line and Daniel Sedin recovered the puck and sent it to Sweatt who had an open shot on Rinne from the right circle.
The Predators charter returned to Nashville on a red-eye flight immediately after the game. Weber headed to Raleigh for the All-Star game while the rest of the team had other plans before reconvening in Nashville on Monday for an afternoon practice on Monday. Nashville’s next game is at the Bridgestone Arena against the Calgary Flames on Tuesday at 7 p.m.