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New York Islanders

Sorokin’s Time To Shine For Islanders In Game 3

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AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

EAST MEADOW, NY– The New York Islanders rode Semyon Varlamov in goal down the stretch of the regular season to help them reach the playoffs.

But now that they’re down two games to none in their opening-round series with the Carolina Hurricanes, the Islanders are turning back to Ilya Sorokin for Game 3 on Thursday night at UBS Arena.

“We knew we would have to use both goalies [in this series],” said Islanders head coach Patrick Roy following the team’s practice at Northwell Health Ice Center on Wednesday. “They’re both sharp, and Varlamov had a lot of shots in the last game, so it’ll be good to have someone fresh for tomorrow.”

The Hurricanes have unsurprisingly treated the first two games of the series as target practice, attempting 184 shots with 110 attempts in Game 2 alone.

To throw Sorokin to the firing squad now could seem like cruel and unusual punishment, but Roy views it as the ideal moment.

“I just feel that he’s coming in a perfect scenario,” said Roy. “We’re down two nothing in this series. Now, he’s going in, and all he can do is go in and enjoy the ride.”

Sorokin started just five of the final 13 games of the regular season after a shaky stretch in mid-March made Roy question his trust in the goalie. But in his diminished role, Sorokin began to find himself again.

“He’s been controlling his rebounds better,” Roy said. “I feel like he was maybe giving too many rebounds at the beginning. I think, right now, the puck is starting to stay closer to him, like Varlamov does so well.”

Sorokin posted a 3-1-1 record with a .926 save percentage in his final five starts. Granted, four of those came against teams that missed the postseason, but Roy believes the quality of the performance matters more than the quality of the opponent.

“He was very good against Chicago, Columbus and Pittsburgh,” said Roy. “[Against Pittsburgh], both teams probably had a total of 40 chances, 20 on each side, so he was tested. So he should see a lot of shots, and if you see a lot of shots, I think he’ll respond really well.”

Sorokin will lead the Islanders out of the UBS Arena tunnel for Game 3 against the Hurricanes tomorrow night at 7:30 p.m. EST.

Notes: Matt Martin missed practice this morning due to maintenance and is considered day-to-day, per Roy. Ruslan Iskhakov skated in Martin’s place during practice and is an option to replace him in the lineup tomorrow night if needed.

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