Michael Leighton picks up first NHL win since 2010
Journeyman goaltender Michael Leighton stopped 31 of 33 shots on goal in his Sunday start against the Florida Panthers with the Carolina Hurricanes to pick up his first NHL win since Dec. 30, 2010.
Since Leighton’s last victory, he had played with the Adirondack Phantoms of the AHL, HC Donbass in the KHL, the Rockford IceHogs of the AHL, one game with the Chicago Blackhawks, and 10 games with the Charlotte Checkers this season.
Leighton started a majority of Philly’s playoff games in 2010 during the team’s surprise run to the Stanley Cup Final against the Blackhawks and was on ice for Patrick Kane’s Stanley Cup clinching goal. During that postseason, Leighton went 8-3 with a 2.46 goal-against average and .916 save percentage in 14 games played.
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“It’s nice to be back. Obviously a tough road to be back here but great city, great fans and I’m happy,” the 35-year-old Leighton said in a postgame on-ice interview. “The legs were a little (like Jell-O) at the beginning of the game but I felt comfortable the rest of the game and kind of rolled from there.”
Against the Panthers Leighton looked shaky early on, allowing two goals in the first 9:51 of the first period. He then settled down as the Hurricanes offense picked him up with three goals in the second period. Leighton even notched an assist on Jeff Skinner’s goal that tied the game at 2-2.
The Hurricanes had played Saturday and coach Bill Peters wanted to rest starter Cam Ward. With backup Eddie Lack still out with a concussion, Peters turned to Leighton.
In 10 games with the Charlotte Checkers this season, Leighton held a 1.66 goal-against average and .937 save percentage.
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Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @joshuacooper
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