ELMONT, NY –– While the New York Rangers sat their Vezina-winning goaltender Igor Shesterkin, his fellow Russian, friend, and rival Ilya Sorokin put on a clinic in New York Islanders’ 3-0 win.
He played like Ilya Sorokin.
In the first period, Sorokin was sharp, keeping the score knotted at 0-0, but that was only the beginning. Sorokin was stellar all night long, as he pitched a 41-save shutout, his first of the season and first ever against the New York Rangers.
Despite Kyle Palmieri’s big night, Sorokin was the best player on the ice for the blue and orange, which he’s had to be so far this season.
The first period was Sorokin’s busiest of the night, as he faced 17 shots, seven of which were considered high-danger chances.
His first highlight-reel save came just two minutes into the hockey game, as New York Rangers forward Julien Gauthier used his speed to get around the defense with just Sorokin left to beat.
The 27-year-old nemtinder bit hard on the sell job, but Sorokin’s ability to adjust in a split second allowed him to stone the young forward to keep the game scoreless.
What a save by Sorokin!
— Islanders Videos (@SNY_Islanders) October 26, 2022
This is what you would call vintage Sorokin. Can we use that phrase yet, or do we have to wait until Sorokin is at least in his thirties (27)?
Sorokin made another incredible save at 5:40 in the first period, as he kept his team from a borderline embarrassing goal against.
Kaapo Kakko showed off incredible hands to quickly cut to the backhand deceptively. Despite being down expecting the forehand shot, Ilya Sorokin quickly stretched out while pushing off his left skate.
He was able to get across enough to get his stretched-out blocker on the shot, directing the puck back to the right corner.
OH MY, ILYA SOROKIN 😱
How did this one stay out? pic.twitter.com/XjQUvTHI2N
— B/R Open Ice (@BR_OpenIce) October 27, 2022
It’s an even more impressive save when you break it down.
As Kakko deked to his backhand, Sorokin was already down, as again, he was expecting a shot. But when Kakko cut to the backhand, Sorokin knew that there was only one part of his body that could save him, and that was his right leg.
He quickly kicked out the right pad, just enough to disrupt the move.
Sorokin continued to make strong saves throughout the game, playing a critical role in the penalty kill, remaining a perfect 25-for-25 to start the season. He turned aside eight shots while shorthanded, with four being considered high-danger chances.
Late in the second period, Sorokin made a crucial save in the final minute as he fought off an Artemi Panarin shot with the shoulder from the slot, to keep the Islanders up 1-0.
On the night, the Rangers had a 4.66 Expected Goals For per Natural Stat Trick, which tells you all you need to know.
The Islanders’ new, aggressive mindset has its positives, notably looking to improve on the dull 2.79 goals per game they posted a season ago (currently 3.00). The negative, of course, is that the team will surrender significantly more odd-man rushes and Grade-A scoring chances.
The onus will eventually fall on Sorokin as the last line of defense, and through the early part of this season, he has been spectacular, especially against the Rangers on Wednesday night.
Ilya Sorokin was chosen as the first star of the game as he improved to 2-3-0 on the season, with a 2.26 GAA and a .931 SV%.
Lane Lambert: “He was outstanding, obviously,” New York Islanders head coach Lane Lambert said. “And, you know, he made a couple of key saves early on that led to us getting our feet under us a little bit, but I thought he was terrific. You just can’t say enough about him.”
Oliver Wahlstrom: “Man, he’s, you know, he’s always there. Even in practice, it’s tough to score him. He’s just a world-class goalie. And we’re lucky to have him.”
Ilya Sorokin: “Every win I feel good. Doesn’t matter against who. When you lose, you feel like shit. When you win, you feel really good.”
Matt Watling contributed to this piece.