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Hackett to start for Sabres, but his mask with Buffalo greats won't

WASHINGTON -- Matt Hackett possesses probably the coolest goalie mask in Sabres history. Unfortunately, he can't wear it.

Hackett, who will start in goal Saturday against the Washington Capitals, said the mask featuring Buffalo legends Jim Kelly, Bruce Smith, Gilbert Perreault and Dominik Hasek doesn't fit. Though the mask was unveiled Saturday, the goaltender has had it since last year.

"No one knew about it because I hadn’t worn it yet," Hackett said in Verizon Center. "Unfortunately, it’s not my size so I can’t wear it in a game. I’m sure all of Buffalo’s going to be mad, but I’m sorry I can’t wear it. We’ll try and remodel it and try and make it so it fits me next time.

"It’s pretty cool to have famous Buffalo athletes on there. It was an idea I had last year, and it came together pretty good."

Hackett, called up because of an injury to Chad Johnson, stopped 29 of 30 shots Friday to backstop Rochester to a 3-1 victory. He is 3-0-2 in his last five starts.

"It’s all confidence," he said. "Once you get in there and start feeling a rhythm, that’s when I feel my best if I’m playing often. I’ve been feeling good lately."

Back-to-back games continue to be a test for Hackett, who tore his anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments at the end of last season.

"I want to come here and prove myself, show I can still play in this league," Hackett said. "Even with my knee, it’s not an excuse. I’m ready to go, and I feel good with my game right now. I just want to show Buffalo that I can play."

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