NASHVILLE _ The Flyers’ season may hinge on goalie Michael Leighton’s injured left ankle.
The goalie, a waiver-wire wonder this season, suffered a high ankle sprain early in Tuesday’s 4-3 shoot-out loss to Nashville. He will have an MRI Wednesday to determine the severity of the injury.
“I just went out to get the puck and it got away from me, and I kind of went back on my leg and felt my leg pop, my ankle,” Leighton said. “It’s just the way I fell backwards. I felt something pop and it didn’t feel good.”
Brian Boucher replaced Leighton and played admirably, allowing one goal the rest of the way and helping the Flyers salvage an important point.
“Once he has settled in, he has played really well,” coach Peter Laviolette said. “He looked solid.”
The Flyers fell into seventh place in the Eastern Conference, one point behind Montreal. The Flyers, however, have played two fewer games than the Habs.
Trailing 3-1 with less than nine minutes left, the Flyers tied the game on late goals by Simon Gagne and Chris Pronger.
Pronger’s goal, his 10th, was on the power play with 5:42 left in regulation.
The Flyers put pressure on goalie Pekka Rinne (42 saves) most of the night and played much more inspired hockey than in their 3-1 loss to the Rangers Sunday. The day off from practice Monday seemed to energize the team.
“I thought we played a good game; we just ran into a hot goalie,” said Danny Briere after collecting a pair of assists. “But I like the way we put pressure on him. We were in their zone most of the night, and if we keep that up, good things will happen.”
The Flyers outshot the Predators, 45-30. Jeff Carter led the way with 11 shots, and Briere added five.
Boucher has been used sparingly this season _ he hasn’t started since Dec. 21 _ and there are questions about whether he can shoulder most of the load, if necessary. He was superb as San Jose's backup last season.
Leighton is 16-5-2 since the Flyers claimed him off re-entry waivers from Carolina on Dec. 15.
“It was kind of weird, because standing up straight, it’s fine,” Leighton said of his injured ankle, “but when I lean forward to get in my stance, that’s when it bothers me _ and obviously that’s what I need to do, get in my stance. And after a while it didn’t feel good, so I knew that obviously I had to leave.”
Goalies Johan Backlund or Jeremy Duchesne could be recalled from the AHL Phantoms Wednesday, GM Paul Holmgren said. Backlund, however, is battling an undisclosed upper-body injury and Duchesne, 23, figures to get the call. Duchesne was a fourth-round pick in the 2005 draft.
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Notes. Briere, Claude Giroux and Mike Richards failed to connect in the shoot-out. In shoot-outs this season, Briere is 1 for 5, Giroux is 2 for 4, and Richards is 1 for 5….The 45 shots marked a season-high for the Flyers, who are 3-3 in shoot-outs; Nashville is 6-3….Nashville’s Martin Erat had the lone shoot-out goal….For the first time since 2006, the Flyers did not allow an opponent a power-play opportunity, though Erat appeared to be tripped by James van Riemsdyk shortly before Gagne’s goal made it 3-2….It was the Flyers’ fourth straight road defeat. They play in Dallas Thursday and in Atlanta Saturday….Nashville coach Barry Trotz: “It was a good game against a team that obviously played with a lot of desperation.”