Leighton makes milestone appearance

Photo: Lindsay Mogle

Utica Comets goaltender Michael Leighton appeared in the 500th regular-season game of his American Hockey League career on Saturday night, becoming just the eighth goaltender in AHL history to reach that milestone.

Leighton got the start as Utica visited the Laval Rocket at Place Bell.

A five-time AHL All-Star, Leighton entered the game with a career record of 249-181-49 in 499 contests, ranking fifth all-time in victories. He is also the AHL’s all-time leader with 50 shutouts.

Leighton 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 1.67 GAA, a .946 save percentage and five shutouts in 28 career Calder Cup Playoff contests (13-12).

The Petrolia, Ontario, native has also played in 110 career NHL games with Chicago, Nashville, Philadelphia and Carolina, posting a record of 37-43-14 with a 2.98 goals-against average, a .900 save percentage and four shutouts. Leighton has also appeared in 16 career Stanley Cup Playoff games including a trip to the Stanley Cup Final with the Flyers in 2010, going 8-3 with three shutouts in 14 games that postseason.

Leighton was originally selected by the Chicago Blackhawks in the sixth round, 165th overall, at the 1999 NHL Draft.

Marcel Paille holds the AHL record for games played by a goaltender with 765.