New York — With the season dwindling down to less than a month remaining and the Carolina Hurricanes desperately chasing a playoff spot, the process of evaluating the organizations young talent has begun.
On Tuesday night 24-year-old defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti made his Canes debut in a 4-2 loss to the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. He logged 9:39 of ice time over the first two periods and was partially responsible for the Rangers' first goal.
Sanguinetti was on the ice when Marian Gaborik scored his 34th goal just 3:02 into the game for a 1-0 lead. He got pinched on the left side boards near the blue line, leaving Gaborik free for an uncontested rebound on Wards doorstep off a shot from Dan Girardi from the right point.
Sanguinetti, who replaced 38 year-old Jaroslav Spacek (lower back) in the lineup, was called up from Charlotte (AHL) on Monday. The Canes are now 9-16-9 on the road and goalie Cam Ward is still in search of his 200th win.
Wearing number 24, Sanguinetti started the game against his former team and was paired with Bryan Allen. He also saw 2:15 of action on the Canes' first power play.
It was exciting, said Sanguinetti of his first game with the Canes this season. This is a tough building to play in. I just want to get my legs under me. It was just one of those nights where I couldnt get anything going. It would have been nice to get the win.
The Rangers increased the lead to 3-0 when Brad Richards connected for his 22nd and 23nd goals of the season in the second period. The Rangers have feasted on the Southeast Division this season, posting a record of 14-2-2 against those teams.
Carolina battled back with two goals less than a minute apart in the second after Richards pair. Tim Brent notched his 10th goal of the season, striking on the power-play from Eric Staal and Jeff Skinner at 14:44. Drayson Bowman earned his third goal of the campaign at 15:16, finishing off a 3-on-2 with assists from Brandon Sutter and Patrick Dwyer.
The Rangers, who lead the Eastern Conference with 95 points, added an insurance goal from Carl Hagelin in the third period. They were without top goalie Henrik Lundqvist who was out with the flu, but backup Martin Biron was up to the task, moving his career record against the Canes to 13-4-1-2 in 22 games.
The Canes could use Sanguinettis scoring touch from the blueline. Rookie Justin Faulk leads the group with eight goals; however, Carolina doesnt have a blue-liner in the top 31 in league scoring. Its top scoring defenseman is Jamie McBain with 25 points.
The 6-3, 190-pound Sanguinetti ranked second in scoring with Charlotte, accumulating eight goals and 27 assists for 35 points in 49 games.
Its natural when you leave a team, you want to come back and prove something, said Canes coach Kirk Muller. He (Sanguinetti) has earned it. Hes put up some points, so its a good time to bring him up. Its a big step for him to come up this late in the year against one of the best teams in the league.
Hes been playing well down there (Charlotte). He got a little taste of it before. Im just looking for consistency from him. Move the puck, maybe get a little chance on the power play. I dont need him to be the first star of the game, just move the puck back there. Im not going to judge him just on one game.
Sanguinetti was the Rangers first pick in the 2006 entry draft and 21st overall. He skated in just five games for them in the 2009-10 season before being dealt that summer to the Canes for a second round pick in 2011 and a sixth round choice in the 2010 draft.
The New Jersey native had a difficult first season with the Carolina organization in 2010-11. After failing to crack the Hurricanes lineup out of training camp, he started the year with Charlotte (AHL). He then suffered a hip injury in November that required surgery and kept him out of the Checkers' lineup until mid-March. In 31 regular season games for Charlotte he scored 3 goals with 12 assists and was an even plus/minus.
In February, the Canes recalled forward Jerome Samson from Charlotte. The 24-year-old rookie has responded with two goals and three assists in 15 games
Were battling hard right now, said Muller. As long as were mathematically still in it (playoff race) were going to keep going. As you can tell, were not quitting.