UNIONDALE, N.Y. — A pair of power-play goals and a 20 save effort from rookie netminder Ilya Sorokin lifted the New York Islanders to a 2-0 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday.
It was the special teams game that made the difference on Sunday as the Islanders went 2-for-5 on the man-advantage and were a perfect 2-for-2 on the penalty kill. The Islanders found the back of the net twice in their first three power-play opportunities against Pittsburgh.
Oliver Wahlstrom recorded his third NHL goal and Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored his team-leading ninth goal of the season.
“You get on a roll sometimes and creating chances,” Josh Bailey said about the power play. “I think that’s the main thing. You obviously want results, but as long as you’re creating those chances it’s going to come. It’s nice to get rewarded with a couple.”
<) )╯ Sunday
( (> Night
<) )> Stats
— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) March 1, 2021
The victory helped pull the New York Islanders even in the standings with the Boston Bruins, who have 26 points. Sunday’s win wrapped up a month that saw New York and Pittsburgh face one another on six different occasions.
Sorokin recorded his second career win in the NHL and become just the eighth goaltender in the league history to record shutouts in each of his first two career regular-season wins. The Russian netminder recorded his first win in Buffalo on Feb. 16.
“It’s teamwork,” Sorokin said about his success on Sunday. “It’s defense for us. A lot of blocked shots gave a lot of help and energy to me.”
The shutout was the first time that the Islanders had blanked Pittsburgh since January 1, 1986, when Kelly Hrudy backstopped the Islanders to a 9-0 win on Long Island.
Islanders head coach Barry Trotz was impressed with Sorokin’s effort between the pipes, especially considering that the Islanders had only allowed 10 shots on goal through the first 40 minutes. Sorokin was able to maintain his high level of play despite the low volume of shots.
“One of the toughest games to play is when you haven’t been busy,” Trotz said. “It’s easy to let your mind wander. I think Ilya did a really good job. He made a very key save right at the end of the second period with 15 seconds to go. We let him out to dry a little bit and he made a huge save. That would’ve been a turning point.”
Barry Trotz praises Ilya Sorokin's performance today:
"One of the toughest games to play is when you haven't been busy… Ilya did a really good job" pic.twitter.com/OqSZNV5Hus
— Islanders Videos (@SNY_Islanders) March 1, 2021
The New York Islanders took a 1-0 lead late in the first period and with the Islanders on the man-advantage. On the ensuing power play, the Islanders were able to work the puck over to Wahlstrom for a one-timer from the far side faceoff circle that beat DeSmith up high.
The goal extended Wahlstrom’s point streak to four games. Wahlstrom has five points in his last four games.
“I’ve always just loved shooting the puck,” Wahlstrom said. “It started in the backyard when I was little. I’d just rip pucks after school and I loved shooting.”
The Islanders took a 2-0 lead off their second power-play goal of the evening. It was flubbed shot that got by DeSmith to give the Islanders a two-goal advantage.
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Pageau went to shoot the puck from the slot but Bryan Rust’s stick got in the way of the shot, which resulted in a knuckle puck-liken shot that got through DeSmith’s legs.
“We have to continue with good karma,” Trotz said. “That power play just moved around and took what was available in these last two games.”