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Leighton's Arrival Helps Boost Flyers

Monday, 01.04.2010 / 12:31 PM / News
By Mike G. Morreale  - NHL.com
Michael Leighton has seemingly resurrected his career since being claimed on re-entry waivers by the Philadelphia Flyers last month.

The big question now, however, is what happens when incumbent starter Ray Emery returns from an abdominal injury and subsequent surgery that has already sidelined him 13 games?

"I probably say this phrase too often, but we'll jump off that bridge when we get to it," Flyers General Manager Paul Holmgren said when asked just that.

There's no question Leighton, 28, has played a vital role in the absence of Emery and an injured Brian Boucher, who has won just four of his 15 starts this season. Prior to dropping a 2-1 overtime decision to the Boston Bruins in the 2010 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Fenway Park on New Year's Day, Leighton had strung together four-straight wins for the first time in his six NHL seasons.
Michael Leighton flashes the leather during the Winter Classic against Boston on Jan. 1, 2010. (Getty Images)

It was a streak that saw him post a 1.18 goals-against average and .952 save percentage -- something the club desperately needed as it looked to right the ship to a season that was fading fast.

"I don't want to say I'm surprised (with Leighton's recent play), but he's been around a long time," Holmgren said. "We actually had him before a few years ago and he played in a couple of games. He's given us a steady influence at a critical time that we needed with Ray out of the lineup and Brian getting injured (finger). Michael has taken the ball and kind of ran with it. It's kind of neat to see."

Leighton was just 2:18 from posting his second-straight shutout before the Bruins ended that hope on a power-play goal by Mark Recchi. Marco Sturm would then score the winner 1:57 into overtime to give the host Bruins the memorable outdoor triumph.

Was Leighton thinking shutout with five minutes remaining?

"I kept thinking a shutout would be nice, but just the win would be nice too," Leighton said. "We had a couple of great opportunities and Tim Thomas made some good saves -- we just couldn't finish it off."

Leighton notched his first shutout in five seasons when he turned aside 22 shots in a 6-0 decision over the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden Wednesday.

Despite the loss in the Winter Classic, Leighton admitted how great it was to have an opportunity to play in Major League Baseball's oldest ball park.
He's given us a steady influence at a critical time that we needed with Ray out of the lineup and Brian getting injured. Michael has taken the ball and kind of ran with it. It's kind of neat to see." - Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren

"You don't realize how big a deal it is until you're actually on the ice -- it was definitely a great experience for me," Leighton said. "My hands and feet were cold, that's about it. The ice got a little chippy towards the end and there were some bad bounces off the boards and stuff. When the sun started going down a little bit in the third period, and we're depending on the lights a little bit more, there was a glare off the ice. Besides that, it was pretty good."

Leighton, who is 5-4-0 with 2.03 GAA and .931 save percentage in seven appearances this season with both Philadelphia and Carolina, admits the overtime winner by Sturm was well executed.

"They kind of came down the wing and held up and threw it at the net," Leighton recalled. "Their guy was driving the center of the ice and just tipped it in -- it was a nice goal."

Leighton allowed two goals in Philadelphia's next game, a 7-4 loss to Ottawa, before he was replaced by Boucher, who absorbed the loss.

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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
3 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
4 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
5 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
6 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
7 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
8 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
9 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
10 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
11 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
12 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
13 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
14 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79
15 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
16 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52

STATS

2013-2014 PLAYOFFS
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
A. MacDonald 1 1 0 1 1
S. Hartnell 1 0 1 1 1
K. Timonen 1 0 0 -2 0
V. Lecavalier 1 0 0 0 0
A. Hall 1 0 0 0 0
M. Streit 1 0 0 0 0
B. Coburn 1 0 0 -2 0
N. Grossmann 1 0 0 0 0
C. Giroux 1 0 0 1 0
J. Voracek 1 0 0 0 0
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Emery 0 1 0 .889 4.00
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