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Six years after his last NHL win, Leighton backstops Hurricanes to victory over Panthers


Welcome back to the NHL, Michael Leighton.

Recalled to the Carolina Hurricanes earlier in the week after goalie Eddie Lack suffered a concussion, Leighton got the start Sunday against the Florida Panthers.

After a tough first period, he was unbeatable the rest of the way, as the Hurricanes came back to beat the Panthers 3-2. That’s his first regular season win in the NHL since Dec. 30, 2010. (That was his first NHL start since 2013.)

And when you have a performance like that -- 31 saves for Leighton -- you get a special belt.

“It’s good to be back. Good to get a win,” he said in a post-game interview.

That’s an important win for the Hurricanes, after playing last night in Ottawa, as they were able to avoid a third straight loss.

They fell behind by a pair of goals in the opening period, but came alive thanks to a sudden offensive outburst in the second period with three goals -- from Viktor Stalberg, Jeff Skinner and Derek Ryan -- in the span of 3:28. Suddenly, this game turned in their favor.

That’s the good news.

The bad news: Jordan Staal left the game after the first period and didn’t return due to an upper-body injury. Check back here for an update.