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Around the East: Leighton expected back soon

by Dan Rosen /
Philadelphia goalies Sergei Bobrovsky and Brian Boucher should expect some company soon.
Flyers GM Paul Holmgren said Monday the team will carry three goalies when Michael Leighton is activated off the Long Term Injured Reserve list. Leighton, who had back surgery on Oct. 11, is working out the kinks with the Adirondack Phantoms of the American Hockey League and could be activated by the end of the coming weekend.
He played two games for the Phantoms this past weekend and gave up seven goals on 56 shots in a pair of losses.
"No, I would not be opposed to carrying three goalies, for the short term anyway," Holmgren said. "I'm a little leery about where (Leighton) is at physically still and I might be a little leery of not having the insurance policy of the other goalies."
Leighton was loaned to Adirondack last Monday on a six-day conditioning assignment. However, he is still suffering from some discomfort in the lower part of his left leg, near his foot, and Holmgren wants him to play in a few more rehab games before activating him.
The NHL on Monday granted Leighton an extension on his conditioning assignment that will allow him to play for Adirondack in its games Friday and Saturday.
"In a way I could come back right now, but I probably won't be 100 percent," Leighton said. "These two extra games will definitely give me an extra week of practice and two more games so I should feel more comfortable. The leg has progressed over the last two weeks so I'm hoping it'll be better and I'll be closer to 100 percent than I am now."
Leighton said he, Holmgren and goalie coach Jeff Reese will re-evaluate his condition after he plays in his second game this coming weekend and then decide if he's going to stay on LTIR or be activated.
Holmgren said the Flyers will have to make a roster move to free up the cap space in order to bring the goalie and his $1.55 million cap hit back. They could solve that issue by putting defenseman Matt Walker on LTIR.
"If I feel and he feels that I'm not ready, and the doc is still questioning it, then maybe I will stay on IR," Leighton said. "It's just kind of a wait-and-see thing. But right now the call is to go down and play a few more games, so let's do it."
Prior to Bobrovsky's assent up the depth chart, Leighton was viewed as the Flyers' No. 1 goalie. He backstopped the team to the Stanley Cup Final last spring and was rewarded for it with his $3.1 million contract.
Leighton danced around a question about whether it will be an uncomfortable situation when he does return to a team that already looks to have plenty of certainty in the nets, but Holmgren said Bobrovsky, Boucher and Leighton will have to find a way to manage at least for a short while.
"It's not ideal," Holmgren said. "These guys are pros and they have to deal with it."
Let's take a trip around the conference. The teams are listed in order of where they are in the standings as of Monday:
 Pittsburgh Penguins (19-8-2, 40 points)

Sidney Crosby was named the NHL's First Star of the Week on Monday, and then he went out and continued his torrid streak with a goal and an assist in a 2-1 win over New Jersey. It was the Penguins' 10th straight victory. Crosby's point streak is up to 16 games. He has 18 goals and 15 assists over the stretch. Pittsburgh played Monday without Evgeni Malkin, who was scratched due to a nagging knee injury. Coach Dan Bylsma said Malkin is day to day.

 Washington Capitals (18-8-3, 39 points)

For two periods Monday everything was coming up rosy for the Caps. They led Toronto, 4-1. Mathieu Perrault, who was re-called earlier in the day, had 2 goals and at least for one night had appeared to solidify the No. 2 center position. Alex Ovechkin had a goal for a second straight game, a good sign he's out of his goal scoring slump. But, then the Caps gave up three goals in the third period and wound up losing, 5-4, via the shootout. Worse yet, they lost shutdown defenseman Jeff Schultz for 4-6 weeks with a fractured thumb.

 Montreal Canadiens (17-8-2, 36 points)

Yannick Weber had his second strong game Saturday since replacing rookie P.K. Subban on the Habs' blue-line. Weber had an assist and was a plus-3 in Montreal's 3-1 win over San Jose. Roman Hamrlik and Jaroslav Spacek are once again proving to be the Canadiens best lockdown defense pair as they held Joe Thornton, Dany Heatley and Patrick Marleau off the board. It'll be interesting to see if Subban gets back in the lineup Tuesday against Ottawa.

 Philadelphia Flyers (17-7-4, 38 points)

The Flyers begin a stretch of three games in four nights at home against San Jose on Wednesday. It'll be captain Mike Richards' 400th NHL game. They also play at Toronto on Thursday and are back at Wells Fargo Center on Saturday against Boston. They snapped out of a funk this past weekend with wins against the Devils and Islanders, the bottom two teams in the conference. Danny Briere scored a goal in each game.

 Tampa Bay Lightning (15-9-3, 33 points)

It's a good thing the Lightning can score because if not this report would be all about their lack of defense and goaltending in the past two games. They put up a six spot on Colorado Saturday and won by a single goal. The Bolts have given up 13 goals in the past two games, including an 8-1 shellacking at the hands of the Bruins. They've allowed three or more goals in each of their last six games, but are somehow 3-2-1. Even more amazing, Steven Stamkos hasn't scored in the last five games.

 Atlanta Thrashers (15-10-3, 33 points)

The Thrashers chose a different way to win Monday. They fell behind 2-0 in the first period (Atlanta scored first in 12 of its previous 14 games), but came back to beat Nashville in overtime on Zach Bogosian's second goal of the season. It was their second straight win since their six-game winning streak was snapped in Pittsburgh last Thursday. Atlanta beat the Capitals, 3-1, on Saturday. The Thrashers are 3-1-1 against the Caps this season. They were 0-6 against them last season.

 New York Rangers (16-12-1, 33 points)

The Rangers have won six of their last nine games, but Sunday's 3-1 loss to Ottawa was not good. The top line of Marian Gaborik, Sean Avery and Erik Christensen, which was good in a home-and-home against the Islanders late last week, managed only one shot and was a combined minus-5. Gaborik was on the ice for all three of Chris Kelly's goals. The Rangers were off Monday, but it wouldn't be shocking if they showed new lines in Tuesday's practice.

 Boston Bruins (14-8-3, 31 points)

With three home games this week against Buffalo, the Islanders and Philadelphia, the Bruins hope to get back on track after a tough shootout loss in Toronto on Saturday. Kris Versteeg's power-play goal with 42 seconds left tied the game and ex-Bruin Phil Kessel beat Tim Thomas for the shootout winner. The Bruins are 0-3 in the shootout this season. Marc Savard played more than 14 minutes Saturday after playing more than 15 minutes in his season debut last Thursday.

 Ottawa Senators (12-14-2, 26 points)

With renewed life in their offensive game, the Senators head to Montreal on Tuesday to face a Habs team that has allowed only two goals in the last two games. After going nearly 203 minutes without a goal, Chris Kelly potted three at Madison Square Garden on Sunday and the Senators won for the first time in four games. But, what should also be noted is the strong play of Pascal Leclaire, who had to make some stellar saves to keep his team in the game. He made 25 in all.

 Carolina Hurricanes (11-12-3, 25 points)

The Hurricanes are a little banged up so Monday's practice included only two goalies and eight skaters. It's OK, though, because they don't play again until Friday at Dallas. That game is the first of four in a row on a road trip that will take them from Dallas to St. Louis then to Florida and Atlanta. Carolina is 0-for-13 on the power play since going 3-for-3 against Boston five games ago.

 Buffalo Sabres (11-13-3, 25 points)

Ryan Miller was named the NHL's Second Star of the Week on Monday. He was perfect against 51 shots over 125 minutes in wins over Columbus (5-0) and Ottawa (1-0) on Friday and Saturday. His shutout streak is up to 148:14. He'll put it on the line in Boston on Tuesday. Drew Stafford had to leave Monday's practice early with some type of upper body ailment. Tim Connolly and Rob Niedermayer practiced, but don't appear ready to return.

 Toronto Maple Leafs (10-12-4, 24 points)

The Leafs were hoping Saturday's 3-2 shootout win against Boston was a start of something. Now they're hoping they can replicate the way they played in the third period on Monday in Washington to keep the positive vibes going. Toronto came back with three goals en route to a 5-4 shootout win. The Leafs will try to end Pittsburgh's winning streak on Wednesday. Captain Dion Phaneuf (leg laceration) practiced Sunday and joined the team on its current road trip. He is reportedly targeting a return on Dec. 16 at, of all places, Calgary. Phaneuf was traded by the Flames to the Leafs on Jan. 31.

 Florida Panthers (11-14-0, 22 points)

The Panthers are one of only two teams (Los Angeles) that do not have an overtime or shootout loss. That's important now because they've needed extra time just to pick up some points lately. The Panthers have won only twice in the last seven games and both were via the shootout. They haven't won in regulation since beating the Islanders, 4-1, on Nov. 20. Scott Clemmensen made 40 saves and three more in the shootout to lead Florida to a 2-1 win over Phoenix on Sunday.

 New Jersey Devils (8-17-2, 18 points)

Martin Brodeur (bruised elbow) sat on the bench as the backup Monday night. The Devils are hoping he'll be able to play Friday in Ottawa. New Jersey is off until then, and that could give GM Lou Lamoriello time to decide if he wants to make a shake-up move. The Devils have lost three in a row since winning at Philadelphia on Nov. 27. That included a listless performance at home against Montreal.

 New York Islanders (5-15-5, 15 points)

Credit goes to interim coach Jack Capuano because although they've won only once in their last 18 games, the Islanders are playing hard and are coming close. Four of their last five losses have been by a single goal, and two of them have gone into overtime. Dwayne Roloson has lost his last 11 decisions, but he has a 2.74 goals-against average over that span.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter: @drosennhl

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