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Canucks' Sweatt scores winner in first NHL game

Lee Sweatt scored the winning goal with 7:29 left in his first NHL game, and the Vancouver Canucks rallied to beat the Nashville Predators 2-1 on Wednesday night.

Nashville captain Shea Weber opened the scoring 37 seconds into the third period, but Alexandre Burrows tied it midway through the period. Sweatt, a 25-year-old defenseman who played the last four seasons in Europe, put the Canucks ahead for good a little less than 2 minutes later.

Daniel Sedin kept the puck in at the Nashville blue line and fed across to Sweatt to create a 2-on-1 down low with Burrows. Sweatt, in the lineup after Alex Edler had back spasms, fired a shot under the blocker-side arm of goalie Pekka Rinne from the right faceoff dot.

Roberto Luongo finished with 26 saves, including a sprawling left-pad stop on Joel Ward with 26 seconds left and Rinne on the bench for an extra attacker.

The Canucks have won two in a row after a 0-1-3 slide.

Vancouver, which has only two regulation losses in its last 25 games, remained five points ahead of Detroit atop the Western Conference and tied Philadelphia for the overall NHL lead with 71 points.

Rinne finished with 33 saves for the Predators, who lost consecutive games for the first time since late December, falling six points behind Detroit in the Central Division race.

After a quiet two periods highlighted only by a handful of great saves at both ends, Weber opened the scoring early in the third period. With Luongo on the ice after a scramble and defenseman Christian Ehrhoff lying in front of him bleeding after a high stick from teammate Ryan Kesler, Weber jumped on a loose puck in the slot and fired it into an empty net.

It was the ninth goal of the season for the Nashville defenseman, who leads the Predators in scoring with 30 points.

Shortly after Luongo made a great save on Marcel Goc in the slot and Rinne answered with a headfirst diving stop on Mason Raymond, Burrows batted in a rebound of his own deflection to tie it.

NOTES: Luongo hasn't lost in regulation in 17 games (12-0-5). ... Predators RW J.P. Dumont returned after missing the last game because of an upper-body injury. Nashville was playing its league-high 30th road game, and finishes the season with 21 of its final 32 games at home.