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Buffalo Sabres News » News » Sabres are liking Mancari's chances
Sabres are liking Mancari's chances
Sabres are liking Mancari's chances
Two games. One goal but lots of scoring chances.


Big impact.

Mark Mancari's first weekend with the Buffalo Sabres was a washout for the team but a major statement from the burly 23-year-old right winger that he's NHL-ready.

Mancari was Buffalo's best forward in Friday's loss to Philadelphia and again in Saturday's loss to the New York Islanders. He had game-highs of five and seven shots on goal, respectively, in the two contests while combining for almost 32 minutes of ice time and nearly six minutes on the power play.

Ales Kotalik and Tim Connolly are injured and one-goal Maxim Afinogenov has been a healthy scratch for two games.

Enter the 6-foot-3, 225-pound Mancari.

"He's a big body with a great shot who can get pucks to the net," coach Lindy Ruff said. "He'll go to the front of the net and hang tough and he's been good on their power play. With Ales and Tim out, it's a weapon we can try to utilize."

Mancari potted his first NHL goal late in the first period Saturday, tapping a Paul Gaustad rebound on the backhand past Islanders goalie Joey MacDonald. He celebrated with a Lambeau Leap-style body-slam into the end glass.

"I was happy but I felt I should have had [the first goal] in the last game," Mancari said. "Actually I should have had it [two years ago] in Ottawa. I missed an open net there. It's a great relief. I just want to go forward and win some games."

"He had good opportunities again," Ruff said. "Took advantage of one. Got to the net. I thought he played well."

Mancari had one assist in three games with Buffalo two years ago but did not get a call last year. It was frustrating for him as he endured a horrible season in Rochester but still put up 21 goals and 36 assists for the Amerks to equal his career high with 57 points.

The Sabres' split affiliation with Florida produced a last-place club in Rochester. With a full team of Sabres prospects in Portland, Maine, however, the Pirates got off to an 11-1-1 start.

"It's good to have your own affiliation," Mancari said. "Guys are jelling a lot better."

Mancari was disappointed to be sent back to the minors again this year ("I don't think I can put any more into training camp than I did"), but didn't sulk once he got to Portland. He had 11 goals and 14 assists in just 14 games and was second in the AHL in scoring.

"It's a worthy call-up," Portland coach Kevin Dineen told the Biddeford (Maine) Journal Tribune. "I don't know if we'll see him again. We really wish him well. He's played some great Hockey for us."

Mancari had to clear waivers when the Sabres sent him to Portland before the season started. He would not have to pass through waivers again if he is sent down before playing 10 games or staying in Buffalo for fewer than 30 days.

Mancari's improved skating skills have helped translate into all kinds of scoring chances at this level, just as he produced in Portland. With a little better luck or finishing skill, Mancari could have had three or four goals over the weekend as he spent most of his time on a line with Gaustad and Daniel Paille.

"It helps playing with guys like Gaustad and Paille," Mancari said. "They create a lot of room and they're smart players so that really helps you. I'm happy with my play but I'd rather take that goal back and win the game. That's what's important right now."

***

The Sabres skated Sunday morning in HSBC Arena even though they had played three of the previous four nights. Connolly and Kotalik were the only players who didn't take part.

The team starts another three-games-in-four-nights trek at home Wednesday against Boston. Buffalo then hosts Pittsburgh on Friday and plays Saturday at Montreal. Then there's another home game two days later against Nashville.

e-mail: mharrington@buffnews.com



Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: November 26, 2008

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