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New York Islanders

Islanders Staring Down Elimination After Sorokin’s Shaky Start

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AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

 ELMONT, NY– The New York Islanders tried to fight back against the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night but couldn’t pull themselves out of an early hole, and now have one foot in the grave and face elimination after falling 3-2 at UBS Arena in Game 3 of their opening-round Stanley Cup playoff series.

Ilya Sorokin started the game in goal for the Islanders but was pulled at 7:14 of the second period after allowing three goals on 14 shots.

“We win and lose as a team,” said Islanders head coach Patrick Roy when asked about Sorokin’s outing. “Sometimes, we make changes as a coach because we feel we just want to change the momentum of the game. I’ll leave it at that.”

Sorokin was not available in the locker room after the game.

The goalie’s first start in over a week came under enormous pressure, not only with the Islanders needing to win but also after Roy spent the morning revving his engine.

Early on, though, it was well apparent that the Islanders’ resident Ferrari had been left to rust for too long, with the Islanders trailing 2-0 at the end of the first period.

Brent Burns let their air out of the building with a wrist shot from along the half wall that made it 1-0 Hurricanes at 4:46 into the game. Dmitry Orlov extended the lead for Carolina at 10:25 of the frame, throwing a shot from the left circle past Sorokin’s blocker off the rush.

The Islanders found a pulse when Pierre Engvall scored at 2:48 of the second period, collecting a feed from Anders Lee from along the goal line and tucking it through the legs of Hurricanes goalie Frederik Andersen.

But after Sebastian Aho made it 3-1 Carolina, Roy had seen enough and sent Semyon Varlamov out to replace Sorokin. After being pulled, Sorokin was visibly distraught while he watched the rest of the game from the bench.

Varlamov shut out Carolina the rest of the way, facing a much lighter load compared to his last outing with eight saves on as many shots, but the Islanders remained stifled by Andersen.

“He’s made some really good saves,” said Noah Dobson. “On me, personally, he’s made some two highlight reel saves. It’s frustrating, but we’ve got to stick with it here and try to get some more traffic [in front] and come out [in Game 4] ready to go, get one and go from there.”

Andersen finished the evening with 29 saves on 31 shots in net for the Hurricanes.

Brock Nelson managed to beat him at 17:39 of the second to make it a one-goal game, but the Islanders never found the equalizer.

Alexander Romanov thought he had when he stared down an open net late in the third, but instead had the shot snatched out of mid-air as Andersen made another miraculous save while laying on his back.

All in all, the Islanders were the better team on Thursday, leading in both total shots attempted and scoring chances, only to trail in the one stat that matters: wins.

“Our backs are against the wall, and it’s do or die for us,” Kyle Palmieri said. “Physically, mentally, we have to find a way to regroup and play our best game of the series.”

Game 4 between the Islanders and Hurricanes is Saturday at 2 p.m. EST at UBS Arena.

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