The Hockey News player of the week for the period of May 10-16 is Philadelphia Flyers goalie Michael Leighton.
In Game 5 of the Flyers’ series with Boston, Philadelphia starter Brian Boucher sustained a knee injury and had to be replaced mid-game. Returning from an ankle injury himself, Leighton hadn’t played a game since March 16 against Nashville.
Leighton played the final 35 minutes of Game 5 – a 4-0 Flyers win – turning aside each of the 14 shots he faced.
Heading back home for Game 6, Leighton and the Flyers trailed in the series 3-2. This time, facing 31 shots, Leighton only let one go past to earn a nail-biting 2-1 win to force a Game 7 back in Boston.
Having come back from a 3-0 series deficit, the Flyers were looking to become only the third NHL team to win a seven-game series after trailing by that margin. Even though Philadelphia fell behind 3-0 in the first period, the offense fought back and Leighton held the door shut the rest of the way, allowing three goals on 25 shots to earn a 4-3 win and an unlikely series victory.
On to the conference final and a date with the Cinderella Montreal Canadiens. Game 1 in Philadelphia saw Leighton pitch his first shutout of the playoffs, turning aside all 28 shots he faced, as the Flyers took a 1-0 series lead with a crushing 6-0 win.
All told, Leighton has a 3-0 record with a 1.11 GAA and .959 SP in these playoffs.