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Rosner Report: Ilya Sorokin Has Lights Out Performance in First NHL Victory

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Ilya Sorokin save

In the Islanders 3-0 victory over the Buffalos Sabres, rookie netminder Ilya Sorokin picked up his first National Hockey League victory. While he did not face many shots on goal, he was a walking — or should I say skating — highlight reel.

We have seen Ilya Sorokin get better and better in each of his appearances this season. In his three starts prior to Tuesday’s victory, the Islanders had failed to give him a lead which put a ton of pressure on the 25-year old rookie. However, after scoring two goals in the first, the Islanders gave him the first lead of his NHL career, and he handled the rest.

While Sorokin hasn’t received a ton of playing time this year, he has taken major strides since his first appearance in net.

“When you play, play, play, you’ll feel better every day. I feel better than I did a month ago,” Sorokin said after the win.

For the majority of the game, the Islanders looked lifeless. Whether it was the Islanders’ satisfaction with an early 2-0 lead or the tiredness that comes from playing on back-to-back nights, it was far from the effort we have become accustomed to over their recent stretch of games

But Ilya Sorokin bailed his team out.

Technically Sorokin did allow one goal on Tuesday, but it was ultimately wiped off the board after the Islanders successfully challenged the play for offsides. Sorokin could do nothing to stop it regardless.

After the game, Sorokin joked that the video review would be the most memorable part of the game.

As the game came and went, Ilya Sorokin had to be really good in order to extend the Islanders’ point streak, which now sits at eight games. While he made a handful of ultra-impressive saves, it was his positioning that caught my attention. Whether it be stopping deflections or fighting off shots, Sorokin put himself in a position for success on most of the shots he faced.

We did see a few rebounds that he would have liked to control, but at the same time, he stopped the puck. Even when he had to fight off some shots, his positioning gave him the opportunity to make the save.

All night long the Buffalo Sabres tried to score via deflections, a goal-scoring style that we have seen more and more of over recent years.

However, when a goaltender is as aggressive as Sorokin was, deflections have a slim chance to enter the net. The reason being is because the deflection, while it does change the location of the shot, can only find an open area if there is one. Since Sorokin was at the top of his crease all night, the deflections had nowhere to go.

While Sorokin was perfect on the stat sheet, there were a few times where Sorokin struggled to control his rebounds and he had to fight off some shots. However, he made the saves and at the end of the day, that is the priority.nhn

One of his biggest and timely saves, which he made look easy, was his breakaway save on Taylor Hall early in the first. As the speedy Hall came down on Sorokin, the young goaltender read the backhand move as if it was a children’s book. With Hall failing to pick up his head, Sorokin knew what was coming. While this save was not as flashy as the others, it was pivotal.  If Hall were to score there, the Islanders would be chasing, and given the effort, we saw in the second and third, it could have proven fatal.

Sorokin’s glove was also electric tonight, as he flashed the leather on more than one occasion. This save on Henri Jokiharju early in the second was special.

When a goaltender has to stretch or has to make a stellar save on a routine shot, it usually means their positioning was off. As I watched the replay I noticed Noah Dobson got in the way of the release, which was why Sorokin was slightly off his angle but recovered rather nicely.

It would be another 13:31 before Sorokin touched rubber again after that save.

For netminders that are hot, the last thing they want is to not continue to feel the puck, which made Sorokin’s performance on Tuesday all that more impressive.

It was Sorokin’s save on Sam Reinhart that showed off the raw strength he has when pushing off to make a stop. This save on Reinhart showed us plenty and was one of many similar saves he made on the night.

Not only did he have to look for the loose puck following the block, but he also had to push off to get to his far post in time.

Earlier in the third, around the 12:00 minute mark, Victor Olofsson hit the post. However, Sorokin had pushed off and was there if need be to make the save.

Sorokin faced 14 high-danger chances in the win, as he denied all of them. That was the most he has faced in a game this season, as it showed not just the progress he had made, but just how good he needed to be to pick up a shutout, let alone a win.

Given the way Semyon Varlamov has played this season, it is clear who the number one netminder for the Islanders is. But if Ilya Sorokin is going to play the way he played on Tuesday as the season rolls on, head coach Barry Trotz has the luxury of having two elite-level performers in goal.

More importantly, Trotz has the trust to throw Sorokin out there, without it being a detriment to the team.

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[…] In the Islanders victory over the Buffalos Sabres, rookie netminder Ilya Sorokin picked up his first National Hockey League win. While he did not face many shots on goal, he was a walking — or should I say skating — highlight reel. (NYI Hockey Now) […]

New York Islanders

Islanders Plus/Minus: New York Tops Buffalo … Again

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Islanders sweep Sabres

No, this is not a copy-and-paste job from the past two games. The New York Islanders did in fact beat the Buffalo Sabres, 5-2, for the third straight game on Sunday afternoon.

It was again a second period of dominance for the Islanders, who rattled off three goals to take a commanding lead they would never relinquish.

In what has probably felt like Groundhog Day for Buffalo, it was another game of missed opportunities and a (mostly) quiet effort from its superstars. The Islanders now move to 10-0-2 at Nassau Coliseum this season as they’ve continually dominated on home ice.

Let’s take a dive into what went right and wrong for the Islanders in this Plus/Minus breakdown.

 

Plus

Anders Lee: O Captain! My Captain! 

Anders Lee has made a home office for himself in front of the net throughout his career. In 2021, he’s continued that theme and thrived in the dirty areas.

His goal 5:13 into the second period Sunday gave him a goal in back-to-back games and points in four straight contests. Now with a team-leading 12 goals this season, he’s on pace to top his 20 in 68 games from last season.

Every hockey coach will wax poetic on the importance of net-front presence, and the Islanders have one of the best forwards in the game to establish control in front of the crease. Just look at the consistency from this NBCSN graphic. Teams would be best served making sure Lee doesn’t get any space in front of the goalie. This isn’t exactly a new trend, but Lee uses his 6-foot-3, 235-pound frame to his advantage.

Second period dominance: Part II

One day after the Islanders scored four in the middle period, they punched across three in the second. Lee, Brock Nelson and Casey Cizikas all scored in what felt like a sequel to Saturday’s onslaught.

SUNDAY FUNDAY! Islanders Complete Sweep of Sabres with Third Straight 5-2 Victory

Nelson, who’s now scored in two straight, seems to finally be hitting his stride. Although five of his eight goals this year have come on the power play, his last two have come at even strength, a welcome sign for the Islanders and their scoring depth. Overall, he’s recorded a point in three straight games.

The Islanders as a team had seven high danger chances for and one allowed in the second period, which led to a gaudy 74.84 expected goals for percentage. The analytics matched with the eye test and the results.

Fourth line does it again

Cizikas and Cal Clutterbuck each had a point in Saturday’s win and both were key in Sunday’s follow-up.

Clutterbuck’s goal just past the halfway mark in the third was especially important as the Sabres pressured and made it a one-goal game. Off a Brandon Davidson turnover at the blue line, Clutterbuck took the puck in all alone, used a forehand to backhand move and roofed a goal just under the bar and over Jonas Johansson’s blocker.

The fourth line was all over the scoresheet in the three-game sweep over the Sabres. Matt Martin scored twice Thursday, Clutterbuck added two over the last two games and Cizikas added one Sunday.

Yes, the Sabres are far and away the worst team in the league right now, but getting scoring depth is still important for the Islanders.

Minus

Shaky third, uneven Sorokin

Down 3-0, the Sabres showed enough pushback to get into the game in the third period and did thanks to goals from Jeff Skinner and Colin Miller. For a brief second after Miller’s goal, it was a close 3-2 game and Buffalo conceivably stayed in the game had it not been for Clutterbuck’s back-breaking goal.

Sorokin wasn’t really tested through the first two periods and wasn’t as his best in the final 20 minutes. Miller’s goal was a weak one he’d like to have back, with the puck just sliding under the netminder’s arm. Sorokin did recover to make a strong save on Skinner later in the period to keep the Sabres at two goals, but it definitely was not the best period for the rookie. In the end, he did stop 24 of 26 shots.

But had it not been for Scott Mayfield saving a loose puck near the goal line late in the third period, it likely would’ve been three goals for Buffalo.

Skinner gets off the schneid

It was going to happen eventually, but Skinner scoring his first goal of the year has to fall into the negative category for the Islanders. Buffalo’s top forwards (Skinner, Jack Eichel and Taylor Hall) have notably been quiet this season.

It was a great individual effort going from behind the net to roofing a backhander from near the crease, but when a skater hasn’t scored in over 365 days, you get a minus for allowing that to change, as nit-picky as that might be.

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New York Islanders

SUNDAY FUNDAY! Islanders Complete Sweep of Sabres with Third Straight 5-2 Victory

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New York Islanders win

UNIONDALE, N.Y. — The Buffalo  Sabres showed some life, but the New York Islanders held them off in the end and wrapped up a three-game set with Buffalo with a 5-2 win on Sunday at Nassau Coliseum.

Cal Clutterbuck came up with the most important goal of the afternoon, scoring with 7:03 left in the game and Buffalo carrying the momentum after pulling within one of the Isles. Clutterbuck was able to corral the puck after Matt Martin had flipped it out of the Islanders’ end.

Buffalo defenseman Brandon Davidson fell as he tried to keep up with Clutterbuck, which gave the Islanders forward a clear path to the net to score. Brock Nelson scored on the empty net at 17:48 to seal the win.

“It was a big goal,” Clutterbuck said about the play. “I just saw Marty flip a puck out and made a really good play under pressure. The puck took a bounce and I was fortunate enough to change directions… It worked out.”

It was the third consecutive game that the Islanders had defeated their Western New York foe by a 5-2 final. Sunday was the final meeting between the two teams on Long Island.

New York and Buffalo play two more times in the final week of the regular season at KeyBank Center.

“You see them three times in a row, all in our building,” Lee said. “It’s a mini-series. That third game is tough, especially on a back-to-back, and we knew that coming in. We did a real good job sticking to our game.”

The New York Islanders extended their hold of the East Division with Sunday’s win. They now sit four points ahead of the Washington Capitals, who are in action against the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday night. The Islanders took possession of the top spot in the division on Friday after Washington fell to the Boston Bruins.

Anders Lee and Casey Cizikas each scored on Sunday, and Nelson recorded his first two-goal game of the season. Ilya Sorokin picked up his fourth NHL win in goal, making 24 saves against Buffalo.

It was Sorokin’s seventh start this season.

“It’s tough to beat any team,” Nelson said. “These guys have a lot of weapons. Any team can beat anyone… so every game is going to be different every day…. We did a good job taking it one day at a time.”

Lee got the Islanders onto the board early in the second period with a redirection goal from in front of the net. Jordan Eberle sent a pass to Lee from the side of the net and the Islanders captain was able to put the puck past Buffalo starter Jonas Johansson at 5:13.

Just over a minute later the Islanders had made it a two-goal lead.

Oliver Wahlstrom was able to drive the puck into the offensive zone and then feed Nelson in the high slot. Nelson quickly got off a wrist shot that beat Johansson to make it a 2-0 game.

The goal extended Nelson’s point streak to three games and Sunday was the second consecutive game that Nelson had scored in.

The Islanders added to their lead late in the second when Cizikas scored off an impressive pass from Jean-Gabriel Pageau. The Islanders’ third line centerman backhanded a pass from the goal line over to Cizikas, who had been parked in front of the Buffalo Net.

Cizikas picked up his fourth point (one goal, three assists) in his last three games on the play and Pageau recorded his 200th career NHL assist.

Buffalo found some life in the third period to make things interesting. Jeff Skinner scored his first goal of the year at 5:41 of the final frame to break up Sorokin’s shutout bid.

Colin Miller pulled  Buffalo within one goal of the Islanders at the 9:35 mark of the third period.

Sunday’s game was nationally televised on NBC as part of Hockey Day in America. Lee and Nelson are both American-born and scored the first two goals of the game.

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New York Islanders

Islanders Plus/Minus: New York Rolls Over Buffalo Again | NYHN+

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Islanders celebrate goal against sabres

Another day, another 5-2 win for the New York Islanders against the Buffalo Sabres. It might not have been the prettiest start in the world, but the Islanders rolled with four goals in the second period to extend their point streak to seven games. “I don’t think we were sluggish,” Barry Trotz said of the…

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