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Thrillya Sorokin: Islanders Netminder Carries Islanders to First Win

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Ilya Sorokin

The last time the New York Islanders had been on the ice at the United Center the idea of Ilya Sorokin ever guarding the net in orange and blue was still just wishful thinking for many. On Tuesday the Russian netminder was the reason the Islanders walked away with a 4-1 win and their first victory of the new season.

For 40 minutes Sorokin was the only thing that was keeping the Islanders from their third consecutive loss to start the year. New York allowed 31 shots on net through the game’s first two periods before settling down and holding Chicago to just eight in the final period.

The effort had been what the Islanders needed in the first two games as defensive miscues and bad communication allowed their opponents to seize on opportunities. When that happened on Tuesday night, Ilya Sorokin was there to bail the Islanders out.

“I thought he was our best player in the first period until we started to get our legs under us a little,” Islanders head coach Barry Trotz said. “Really felt bad for him, I wanted him to get the shutout. He deserved the shutout, but we failed in the last few seconds. He played really solid, made the saves he needed to make, made some that were timely, and that shorthanded one was huge.”

That save, which the Islanders’ head coach called a “game-changer” afterward, came at the end of the second with New York holding a 1-0 lead. Alex DeBrincat had a shorthanded breakaway off a Noah Dobson turnover, but Ilya Sorokin turned away the chance with his blocker.

It was one of several chances of DeBrincat that Sorokin turned away. There were a pair of scoring chances for the Chicago forward that Sorokin stopped, including a tough save on the first hot of the game from DeBrincat.

Sorokin also turned away five shots on a first-period power play for Chicago.

“Our goalies in the past two years, Varly and Ilya, have been on top of their game,” Anthony Beauvillier said. “Especially when we’re struggling early, they kept us in the game. Huge saves. It was the case tonight for Ilya. He really kept us in the game and it’s a huge boost of energy when you know your goalie is really backing you up when you make mistakes. When you’re kind of struggling like we were in the first period a little bit.

“He kept us in the game and gave us a big boost, and obviously a huge chance to win.”

It set the stage for a three-goal third period from the Islanders, which saw Oliver Wahlstrom score twice and Cal Clutterbuck seal it with his first goal of the year.

Sorokin had entered Tuesday night’s start with a 5.09 goals-against average and a .855 save percentage. Both were surprisingly ugly considering the expectations on the Islanders and Sorokin.

The performance out of Ilya Sorokin against Chicago was more indicative of what the Islanders expect and need, especially through the early part of the season.

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