To think it was just a short while ago fans and media were talking about whether or not Ilya Sorokin should get some time in the AHL. Oh, how things have changed.
Sorokin put on another masterful performance on Sunday night, stealing the New York Islanders a much-needed two points against the Philadelphia Flyers. The 25-year-old rookie withstood a barrage of Philadelphia chances throughout the 60-plus minute affair.
“We don’t win that hockey game if he doesn’t have that first period that he did,” Islanders head coach Barry Trotz said. “We were slow out of the gate. We weren’t sharp. We weren’t committed to the battle and you need your goaltender to sometimes steal you a game. I thought he stole it in the first for us. Gave us a chance to sort of right the ship.”
It started almost right from the start for Sorokin on Sunday with his first big save of the night coming less than two minutes into the game. Kevin Hayes came up with a big chance that Sorokin turned aside.
— Rob Taub (@RTaub_) April 18, 2021
Ilya Sorokin came up big again later in the first when he used his right pad to stop a big shot from Travis Sanheim. Then another point-blank chance for Sanheim has turned aside with 3:04 left in the opening period.
The Islanders’ netminder was clutch later in the game as well when New York and Philadelphia hit the extra period. Sorokin made a pad save on Ivan Provorov 21 seconds into overtime to allow for Nick Leddy to eventually get the game-winner.
“How quick he is back there without really putting himself out of position,” Ryan Pulock responded when asked what impressed him most about Sorokin. “He’s moving around quick, but he’s still calm and he’s in the right spots. He gives himself a chance to make those saves and I think you saw that tonight. There was some quick rebounds where he was just making that save every time.”
Sunday’s victory was Sorokin’s 12th of the season and his third shutout of the year. His three shutouts as a rookie have him tied for second for most shutouts by an Islanders rookie goaltender.
Chico Resch also had three during his rookie year during the 1974-75 season.
“I feel good,” Sorokin said about facing so many shots early in the game. “Have a good physical condition and when you have shots you can feel your…game and it’s helping you in the second period when it was hard shots.”
“I feel good, I have a good physical condition. When they have shots, you can feel your game. It helps you in the future – in the second period when there are hard shots. I feel okay.”
Sorokin ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/bmWCiUm3nV
— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) April 19, 2021
The win was Sorokin’s fifth in as many starts against Philadelphia. He is the first rookie netminder in NHL history to record five wins over Philadelphia and he finished the year with a 1.58 goals-against average and .944 save percentage against them.
Ilya Sorokin didn’t have an explanation as to why he has played so well against Philadelphia this season. He told reporters that his focus was on what was going on in the moment and not what had happened in the past against any team.
What Sorokin did take note of was getting to play in back-to-back games. He started on Friday against Boston and then got the nod again on Sunday.
“It’s all about how you feel with your physical condition,” Sorokin said. “If you’re tired it’s hard, two games in a row, but I feel good and can play more.”