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Portland coach Kevin Dineen took stock of the pro hockey scene and figured there was a strong possibility that he would soon lose his No. 1 goalie, Michael Leighton, if parent club Anaheim tried to recall him on waivers. Unfortunately for Dineen, he proved to be correct. But not before he squeezed every last second that he could out of his stopper.

Dineen played Leighton in each of the Pirates’ three games last weekend. Then, on Monday, Nashville claimed Leighton on waivers when the Ducks tried to bring him up.

“I figured I’d get our work out of him while we could,’’ Dineen said.

While there is never a good time to lose your workhorse goalie, Leighton’s departure at this point really stings the Pirates. Portland has climbed to the top of the Atlantic Division and now is left with just one goalie, Nathan Marsters, on its roster.

“Right now, we’re just kind of holding out, seeing how things filter out in Anaheim,’’ Dineen said. “I’m disappointed to lose Leighton. He’s not only a quality goaltender, he’s an intelligent hockey player, a guy who our guys feed off of. He deserves to be in the NHL. I’d much rather see him in Anaheim.’’

The way things are going for Dineen, count on him to figure something out. His team is coming off a stretch of 10 games in 17 days. Before the run started, he made a deal with his players that if they went 7-3 in those 10 games, they’d get some extra time off during Christmas break.

The Pirates went 6-3-0-1 during that span. Dineen kept his Grinch suit in the closet and promised his players the longer break anyways.

“You hate to be wishy-washy. But I told them they owe me a point down the road,’’ Dineen said. “We made a deal that they wouldn’t sit around and crack eggnog for three days straight (over the break).’’
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