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

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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.