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Leighton Inspires Confidence in Finishing Off Shutout

Tuesday, 05.11.2010 / 9:23 AM ET / News
By Mike G. Morreale  - NHL.com
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Leighton Inspires Confidence in Finishing Off Shutout
Michael Leighton only just returned from injury to back up Brian Boucher when the Flyers goaltender found himself the man between the pipes after Boucher was hurt in Game 5. He finished off a 4-0 shutout of the Bruins that extends the series to a Game 6 on Wednesday.
(Boston, MA) - Philadelphia Flyers goalie Michael Leighton had one thing in mind as he was about to step in for an injured Brian Boucher and make his Stanley Cup Playoffs debut with the entire season on the line.

It was pretty simple, really. All Leighton needed to do was make sure the team maintained the same level of confidence in him as they had in Boucher. In order to do that, he'd have to come up with timely stops -- something he hadn't done in an actual game setting in almost two months. It was March 16, actually, when Leighton last played in a game.

"Those first few minutes, I was pretty nervous knowing the situation, knowing that you're one mistake away from them tying it up and then it's a different ball game," Leighton said.
Philadelphia Flyers goalie Michael Leighton, right, is congratulated by teammate Chris Pronger, left, after the Flyers beat the Boston Bruins4-0 in Game 5 of a second-round NHL playoff hockey series in Boston, Monday, May 10, 2010. Leighton replaced goalie Brian Boucher after an injury in the second period. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

But there he was. The Flyers picked Leighton up on re-entry waivers from the Carolina Hurricanes in December for this exact purpose. He'd step in and do the job after Ray Emery was sidelined for good with a serious is left hip inury in February, and now he was asked to do it again. But this time he was doing it for the first time in 22 games.

"I didn't want to allow a goal early in the game," Leighton said. "We're up, 1-0. If they score when I go in, just when I'm starting to get comfortable, it's a 1-1 game. I didn't want to lose confidence in the team. I was able to make one or two routine stops early when I went in and team played well after that."

It was quite the scene at the 4:35 mark of the second when Boucher was lying on his back after making his ninth save, suddenly in agony after having his left leg bent beneath his body while two players toppled over him. According to CSNPhilly.com, Boucher sprained the MCL in both knees. It certainly wasn't the way Leighton would have scripted his first appearance in a playoff game, but he had no choice.

Neither did his teammates, who played flawless in front of Leighton. The sixth-year goalie would finish with 14 saves to help the Flyers notch their second shutout this postseason and the 27th in their storied playoff history.

The combined shutout by Leighton and Boucher was only the second in the history of the Stanley Cup Playoffs -- on March 22, 1955, Montreal's Jacques Plante and Charlie Hodge blanked Boston, 2-0.

"Guys are just doing anything they can; we played great tonight," Leighton said. "As soon as I went in, we played great defensively. We definitely held back their shots and their goal scoring, we stayed out the box, and it gave me the opportunity to get comfortable. If they came in and peppered me right away, it may have been a different outcome. So hats off to the team around me."

Leighton was actually stunned when he saw Boucher on the ice in obvious pain. He, like everyone else on the team, was thinking, "Not again."

"I actually couldn't even believe it happened," he said. "With Ray (Emery) going down earlier, and then Boosh going down earlier this season and then Ray coming back and then I get hurt and then Boosh again (on Monday)," Leighton said. "So it's definitely been a roller coaster for the goalies this year. But the team has done great job playing in front of all of us."

Leighton actually had a moment with Boucher in the locker room while he was getting treated.

"I just asked how he was doing and he said great job to me and I said great job to him," Leighton said. "It was a shared shutout. He was playing great in the first period and early in the second.

Now, the question is can Leighton take over where Boucher left off in the playoffs? Certainly no easy feat considering "Boosh" has a 6-4 mark (he was credited with the win Monday since the Flyers scored the game-winning goal while he was in net) with a 2.33 goals-against average and .915 save percentage in 10 appearances this postseason.

The way Leighton sees it, however, this team has been playing solid hockey and he expects it to continue in Game 6 at the Wachovia Center on Wednesday (8:00 p.m., CSN).

"We know we can (win four straight)," Leighton said. "In my eyes, we've outplayed (Boston) most of the games. The first game we came out slow because we had a long break but we've been there every game -- it's not like they're blowing us out. We're confident as long as we come out and we're ready to play every game that we can win each game. We just have to brush (Game 5) under the rug now and head back home and focus on that game."

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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 252 192 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 221 189 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 262 211 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 242 203 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 252 230 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 235 221 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 238 215 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 221 210 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 213 211 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 206 223 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 236 250 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 215 234 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 181 216 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 188 226 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 211 262 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 161 274 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Voracek 82 22 59 1 81
C. Giroux 81 25 48 -3 73
M. Streit 81 9 43 -8 52
W. Simmonds 75 28 22 -5 50
B. Schenn 82 18 29 -5 47
S. Couturier 82 15 22 4 37
M. Del Zotto 64 10 22 -5 32
M. Read 80 8 22 -4 30
M. Raffl 67 21 7 6 28
V. Lecavalier 57 8 12 -7 20
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
S. Mason 18 18 11 .928 2.25
R. Emery 10 11 7 .894 3.06
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