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New York Islanders

Sorokin vs. Shesterkin: A Rivalry Inside A Rivarly For Years To Come

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New York Islanders

Fans at Madison Square Garden and the fans that watched at home on Thursday night witnessed a fantastic hockey game between the New York Islanders and the New York Rangers. The rivalry game had it all, despite the two teams sitting on different ends of the NHL spectrum in 2021-22.

It was a goaltending duel as, for the second time ever, Ilya Sorokin and Igor Shesterkin went head to head in the NHL, a rivalry inside a rivalry.

Ilya Sorokin was victorious as he turned aside 29 of 30 shots in the 2-1 win on Thursday night. One of his saves will be a candidate for the ‘Save of the Year‘, no question about it.

Despite the loss, Igor Shesterkin was on his game, making strong save after strong save throughout the night. He turned aside 26 of the 28 shots he faced and had no chance on either goals that beat him.

It was an exciting game for the players on the ice to be a part of as well.

“Yeah, so fun. (We) didn’t want to talk too much before the game and put that pressure on Ilya, but I think everyone knows. You know, these two stars in New York City, just both similar goaltenders,” Mathew Barzal said. “You see Ilya stretching out, Igor stretching out…it was was a fun one to be a part of, honestly, to watch those two go at it tonight.”

With the win, Ilya Sorokin has now won both meetings NHL between his friend Igor Shesterkin.

The first time these two faced off was back on Apr. 11, 2021, where, again, Ilya Sorokin was victorious as the Islanders won 3-2 in overtime. In that game, Sorokin stopped 24 of 26, while Shesterkin stopped 29 of 32.

In two meetings, both goaltenders have been phenomenal. Sorokin has stopped a combined 53 of 56, which equated to a .946 SV%. Shesterkin has stopped 56 of 60, a .933 SV%.

The first two meetings have been advertisements of what’s to come, as both goaltenders should be manning their respective New York creases for the foreseeable future.

New York Islanders head coach Barry Trotz coached the Washington Capitals from 2014 to 2018, and their biggest rival was the Pittsburgh Penguins. Alex Ovechkin was his superstar, with Sidney Crosby the one for the Penguins, which made the rivalry what it was. For the Islanders and Rangers, the men between the pipes will only make the rivalry stronger if both continue to play the way they have over their short NHL careers.

“Ilya and Shesterkin are both really good friends, and they’re both hell of goaltenders. I mean, they’re as good as there is in the National Hockey League,” Trotz said the morning of Thursday’s contest. “This could be, you know, you look at the Crosby Ovechkin thing maybe it’s an Ilya, Igor thing.”

After Thursday’s game, Trotz was asked if he thought the goaltending lived up to his comparison from earlier in the day.

“Yeah, it lived up to it for one game. You know, these two (Ovechkin, Crosby), you’re talking about two Hall of Famers that have combined probably 30 years between the two of them,” Trotz said. “They’re just starting out, and it’s pretty exciting for the game of hockey and for this area, especially because of the proximity.”

Whether you are a New York Rangers fan or a New York Islanders fan, or just a hockey fan, being able to watch two world-class netminders go head to head is a luxury and makes this historical rivalry even better.