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Leighton sets career shutout record

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … Michael Leighton of the Rockford IceHogs set an American Hockey League record with his 46th career regular-season shutout on Saturday night, making 35 saves in a 5-0 win over the Lake Erie Monsters at the BMO Harris Bank Center in Rockford, Ill.

With his 46th shutout, Leighton breaks a tie atop the leaderboard with Johnny Bower, who had 45 shutouts during 11 AHL seasons with the Cleveland Barons and Providence Reds. A three-time AHL MVP and three-time Calder Cup champion, Bower is still the league’s all-time wins leader among goalies with 359; he had owned the shutouts record for nearly 59 years since passing Nick Damore on Mar. 10, 1957.

A 34-year-old native of Petrolia, Ont., Leighton is in the midst of another standout year in this, his 15th professional season. After Saturday’s win, Leighton is 27-6-8 in 43 appearances with Rockford in 2015-16, posting a 2.38 goals-against average, a .920 save percentage and five shutouts. 

Originally drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in 1999, Leighton has appeared in 439 regular-season AHL contests, earning a career record of 220-163-41 and ranking ninth on the all-time wins list. He is a four-time AHL All-Star (including 2016), was named to the AHL All-Rookie Team in 2001-02 and won the Aldege “Baz” Bastien Memorial Award as the AHL’s outstanding goaltender in 2007-08.

In postseason play, Leighton owns the AHL records for saves in a single game (98, in a five-overtime loss on Apr. 24, 2008) and for lowest GAA in a single playoff year (1.18, in 2008). He shows a 1.68 GAA and .946 save percentage with five more shutouts in 27 career Calder Cup Playoff contests. 

In the National Hockey League, Leighton has played 105 regular-season games with Chicago, Nashville, Philadelphia and Carolina. He reached the Stanley Cup Final with the Flyers in 2010, going 8-3 with three shutouts in 14 games that postseason.