Michael Leighton has been a man on the move, ready to fill any net.
The Carolina Hurricanes goalie was thrust into Tuesday’s game against the Vancouver Canucks, entering in the second period to relieve starter Cam Ward. When the Canes rallied in the third period to win 8-6, Leighton earned his second NHL victory of the season.
Then, he was back on the move.
The Canes on Wednesday assigned Leighton to the Charlotte Checkers of the American Hockey League. He was expected to play Wednesday night against the Manitoba Moose in the AHL game at Bojangles Coliseum, and should be recalled by the Canes in the next few days depending on Eddie Lack’s availability.
Canes coach Bill Peters said after Tuesday’s game that Ward would start Friday against the Washington Capitals.
A week ago, Leighton went with the Canes to California for a three-game trip. He served as Ward’s backup in games against the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings, was assigned to the Checkers for a Friday game against Bakersfield — Charlotte losing 3-2 in overtime — then was back with the Canes for the game Saturday against San Jose.
Leighton was an emergency call-up by Carolina on Nov. 21 after Lack suffered a concussion in practice. Lack is sidelined indefinitely and has not practiced with the Canes.
Leighton allowed three goals on 16 shots against the Canucks after Ward gave up three on 18 shots. The Canes’ six goals in the third gave Leighton his 37th career NHL victory.
“Obviously we knew going into the third period we had to turn things around,” Leighton said. “We were putting more pucks to the net, but I think we were also working harder. We were skating better and had guys driving to the net.
“Obviously we don’t want to play too many games like that. But us scoring that many goals, against a good defensive team and good goalies over there, we need to carry that over.”
Leighton, a backup goalie on the Canes’ last playoff team in 2008-09, is 2-1 with a 3.53 goals-against average this season for the Canes. He has been 6-2-2, with a 1.78 GAA and .932 save percentage for Charlotte.