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Glass Half Full: Sorokin Shined Against Panthers Stellar Offense

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Ilya Sorokin, New York Islanders
New York Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin in warmups before game against Florida Panthers (Courtesy of New York Islanders Twitter)

There were a handful of positives from the New York Islanders’ 3-1 opening night loss to the Florida Panthers on Thursday. The aggressive system created more opportunities for the Islanders, and the defensive structure looked strong, especially early.

Rapid Recap: From The Hunter to the Hunted, Lose 3-1 to Panthers

But the biggest positive of the night was the play of New York Islanders netminder Ilya Sorokin, who turned aside 26 of 28 shots he faced on the night.

“I thought he played well, New York Islanders head coach Lane Lambert shared following the loss. “He was tracking the puck. He made several critical saves.”

Per our friends over at Natural Stat Trick, 10 of the 28 shots he faced were considered high-danger chances. He stopped nine of them.

READ MORE: Islanders Offensive Execution, Speed an Issue in Game 1

The first goal Sorokin allowed came off an Eetu Luostarinen tip from the slot.

Sorokin may have wanted to be a little more aggressive, but right off a turnover and a quick shot, Sorokin wasn’t able to establish himself at the top of his paint.

He also had to respect the Radko Gudas shot, which was going glove side before the redirect.

The second goal, the game-winning goal for the Florida Panthers, was a tough break for Sorokin. After making a glove save following an Islanders turnover, the rebound, which was pushed directly to the corner, went right to Patric Hornqvist.

The gritty veteran tried to wack the puck out of mid-air, which forced Sorokin to play the shot. Instead, Hornqvist wacked the puck down and quickly scooped it up and wrapped it around.

 

The New York Islanders found themselves on the penalty kill five times in the contest, allowing just seven shots on Sorokin.

While the seven shots against should be attributed to the strong defensive work in front of Sorokin, his ability to control his rebounds and more effectively hold onto the pucks in general limited the number of chances the Panthers could get with the man advantage.

“He was perfect on the penalty kill. Obviously, in order to have a good kill your goalie has to be your best killer.” Lambert said. “I thought he was, so you know, give him full credit.”

Four of the seven shots Sorokin turned aside while the New York Islanders were shorthanded were considered high-danger chances.

The Florida Panthers had an Expected Goals Against of 4.13, and Sorokin allowed only two. He made some ridiculous saves, especially while the Islanders were shorthanded, and gave them every chance to win.

“He’s great. He’s a good goalie, good flexibility, [good] mobility,” Florida Panthers netminder Sergei Bobrovsky said postgame. “And he came up with big saves tonight.”

Although the New York Islanders, in theory, should score more goals this season with the new aggressive style, Ilya Sorokin’s play is critical to the franchise’s success this season.

Despite starting his campaign off with a loss, Ilya Sorokin was not the issue and played to the elite level that the Islanders expected.

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