Saturday, September 20, 2014
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Leighton backstops Phantoms to win

Making his third minor league start this week, Flyers goaltender Michael Leighton backstopped the Phantoms to just their fourth win of the season Friday night in Syracuse. It was Leighton’s first win in three starts.

Leighton backstops Phantoms to win

Goalie Michael Leighton is on a rehab assignment with the Flyers´ AHL affiliate. (Yong Kim / Staff Photographer)
Goalie Michael Leighton is on a rehab assignment with the Flyers' AHL affiliate. (Yong Kim / Staff Photographer)

Making his third minor league start this week, Flyers goaltender Michael Leighton backstopped the Phantoms to just their fourth win of the season Friday night in Syracuse. It was Leighton’s first win in three starts.

The Phantoms, on pace for the worst season in the AHL’s 75 year history, picked up a 5-2 win against the Crunch at Onondaga County War Memorial.

Leighton stopped 29 of 31 shots and nabbed 2nd star honors, upping his save percentage to .897 (78 of 87) in three starts with the Phantoms. He has allowed 9 goals in 3 games.

Leighton was re-assigned to Adirondack this weekend as part of his second and final rehab stint with the Phantoms. He is recovering from an Oct. 11 surgery to repair a herniated disk. The Flyers received a one-time extension from the NHL this week to allow Leighton to make another two rehab starts.

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Leighton feeling 'more comfortable' in net

“I feel more comfortable in the net,” Leighton told the Syracuse Post-Standard after the game. “Game situations are so much different than practice. There’s still the [foot] weakness problem. But I’m playing through it and, so far, so good. I’m just trying to focus on my game and moving around good.”

The Phantoms are now 2-10-1 under AHL Hall of Fame coach John Paddock, matching their start with Greg Gilbert (2-10-1) before he was fired.

Flyers defenseman Matt Walker, also making a rehab appearance after an Oct. 20 hip surgery, played in his first regular season game this year. Walker was a minus-1 with no points, one shot and one penalty.

The Flyers will have an interesting defensive equation on their hands, considering Walker’s $1.7 million salary, once his 14-day conditioning stint expires.

Leighton is expected to start again for the Phantoms tonight in Glens Falls, N.Y., as they take on the Portland Pirates. The NHL also gave the Flyers the flexibility of having Leighton skip Saturday’s game and play in Hartford on Sunday – or have him play in all three games, even though the Collective Bargaining Agreement calls for an extension of two games.

The Flyers, meanwhile, will take on the Bruins tonight in Boston. It’s been almost an entire year (Dec. 14, 2009) since the Flyers’ last regular season win at TD Garden. It is also the Flyers’ second matchup with the Bruins this month, after Tim Thomas shutout the Flyers (3-0) on Dec. 1.

This time, the Bruins will have Marc Savard in the lineup, who returned the day after the Bruins played the Flyers, his first appearance since last year’s historic playoff collapse. Savard has one assist in four games back. Bruins defenseman Mark Stuart will be out after fracturing a bone in his hand on Tuesday night.

Boston trails Montreal by three points in the Northeast division.

As of this posting, the Flyers have not yet named their starting goaltender for tonight’s matchup (7 p.m., Comcast SportsNet). It would not be absolutely stunning to see Peter Laviolette stick with Brian Boucher after his brilliant, near-flawless performance in Toronto on Thursday.

Here is the Bruins’ expected lineup, according to the Boston Globe:

Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Nathan Horton
Blake Wheeler-Patrice Bergeron-Mark Recchi
Tyler Seguin-Marc Savard-Michael Ryder
Brad Marchand-Gregory Campbell-Shawn Thornton

Zdeno Chara-Johnny Boychuk
Dennis Seidenberg-Steven Kampfer
Andrew Ference-Adam McQuaid

Tim Thomas
Tuukka Rask

For the latest updates, follow Frank Seravalli on Twitter: @DNFlyers


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Frequent Flyers is your home for news and analysis of all things orange and black. Reach Frank at seravaf@phillynews.com.

Frank Seravalli Daily News Sports Columnist
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