RALEIGH -- Michael Leighton insists he not thinking ahead, that he's focusing solely on the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Canes' game Thursday night.
But with Cam Ward out with a groin injury, Leighton likely will start in goal for the Canes this week against Pittsburgh, quickly followed by the Philadelphia Flyers and Washington Capitals. That's three games in four days against the likes of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Simon Gagne and Alex Ovechkin. That's a lot for any goaltender to think about.
"It's never fun to see your No. 1 goalie get hurt (but) it's an opportunity for me to play," Leighton said today. "It's (bad) for our team, obviously, because Cam has been playing really well the last three or four games.
"We just need to get a win any way we can these next two or three games and obviously I have to do my part and play well. ... I have to go one at a time and the first one's Pittsburgh. Right now it's just all about this team right now and we need to win hockey games, regardless if it's 6-5 or 10-5. We just need to win games."
Leighton is 4-4-0 with a 2.99 goals-against average and .898 save percentage. He took over for Ward on Sunday after the first period against Anaheim and was the loser as the Ducks scored three times in the third period for a 4-1 win.
Leighton's last win came in the Canes' 2-1 victory over Ottawa on Nov. 7 when he had 22 saves.
"He's played well since he's been here," Canes coach Peter Laviolette said. "Cam has been pretty good as of late and we've been rolling with him a little bit. Leits has done a good job when he's been in there. Every game he's given us an opportunity to win."
Justin Peters, called up Tuesday from the Albany River Rats (AHL), will be the backup in goal.
"It's unfortunate that (Ward) got hurt, but for me it gives me an opportunity here," Peters said. "Just come in here and work hard and get a chance to show myself here a little bit. Whatever is asked of me here I'm going to do."