Leighton ties Bower with 45th AHL shutout

Michael Leighton moved into a tie for the American Hockey League’s career shutout lead on Friday night, making 20 saves in the Rockford IceHogs’ 6-0 victory over the Chicago Wolves.

Leighton has posted 45 shutouts in his AHL career, tying the record held by Hockey Hall of Fame goaltender Johnny Bower.

Leighton is in the midst of a career year with Rockford in this, his 15th professional season. The 34-year-old native of Petrolia, Ont., is 23-4-4 in 32 appearances with the IceHogs, posting a 2.01 goals-against average, a .932 save percentage and four shutouts.

Originally drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in 1999, Leighton has appeared in 428 regular-season AHL contests, earning a record of 216-161-37 with Norfolk, Rochester, Portland, Philadelphia/Adirondack, Albany and Rockford. He ranks 10th on the AHL’s all-time wins list.

Leighton, who will be heading to his fourth career AHL All-Star Classic this weekend in Syracuse, N.Y., was named to the AHL All-Rookie Team in 2001-02, and won the Baz Bastien Memorial Award as the AHL’s outstanding goaltender in 2007-08. In the postseason, Leighton owns the AHL records for saves in a single game (98, in a five-overtime loss on Apr. 24, 2008) and for lowest goals-against average in a single playoff year (1.18, in 2008). He shows a 1.68 GAA and a .946 save percentage in 27 career Calder Cup Playoff contests.

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