Veteran forward Mark Mancari recorded his first hat trick of the season and David Leggio stopped 27 of 28 shots as the Rochester Americans kicked off the second half of the 2012-13 campaign with a 5-1 win over the Toronto Marlies Friday night at The Blue Cross Arena.
The win closes out a perfect four-game homestand for the Amerks and gives Rochester its first win this season over the Marlies after dropping the previous five meetings between the North Division foes.
Kevin Porter (1+2) and Brayden McNabb (0+3), who each represented the Amerks at the 2013 AHL All-Star Classic earlier this week in Providence, each notched three points apiece in the win, while Evan Rankin rounded out the scoring for Rochester, which has won nine of its last 11 games at home.
Jerry D'Amigo provided Toronto's lone goal and Jussi Rynnas made 24 saves in the loss for the Marlies, who have dropped three straight and six of their last seven games.
Mancari spotted the Amerks to a 1-0 lead just 5:54 into the contest, deflecting Nick Crawford's shot from the left point to the top of net for his 12th of the season. Crawford made a nice play at the blueline to keep the play alive and sent a quick shot toward the goal-mouth, where Mancari was able to steer it to the upper right corner.
With the goal, Mancari leapfrogged T.J. Brennan for the team lead in scoring with his 36th point and extended his current point streak to four games. Mancari, who now shows 194 career points as an Amerk, ranks 31st all-time in scoring in franchise history, surpassing current Buffalo Sabres captain Jason Pominville and tying Amerks Hall of Famer Rick Pagnutti.
Rochester increased its lead late in the opening frame as the All-Star duo of Porter and McNabb struck to give the home team a two-goal advantage at 17:05. Luke Adam sent a cross-ice pass to McNabb at the left half-wall and as McNabb moved into shoot, he instead found Porter all alone in the high slot, where the Amerks captain snapped a one-timer past Rynass for his 13th goal of the season.
The Amerks went up 3-0 in the second period as Rich Schofield set up Rankin for an easy tap-in at the top of the crease before Mancari added his second of the night, converting Kevin Sundher's pass off a two-on-one rush 5:57 into the final frame to cap a four-goal run.
Toronto spoiled Leggio's bid for the shutout late in the third period as Spencer Abbott and Simon Gysbers set up D'Amigo in the low slot, but Rochester would answer with just 14 seconds left in regulation as Mancari completed the hat trick on the power-play to give the Amerks the 5-1 win. Porter and McNabb each earned their third points of the night with the assists.
The Amerks open a four-game road swing on Saturday, Feb. 2 as they travel to nearby Syracuse to take on the Crunch at the War Memorial at Oncenter. The 7:30 p.m. matchup will be the sixth of 10 meetings between the intrastate rivals this season
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