The New York Islanders didn’t bring their best in Philadelphia on Monday. But, thanks to several key contributors, they escaped with two points.
It didn’t look great for most of the night. The New York Islanders had only managed two shots from the inner slot through 40 minutes of action in Philadelphia and were trailing 1-0 entering the third period. But, thanks to some timely contributions, they forced overtime, eventually winning on an Anthony Beauvillier wraparound goal.
Here are three takeaways from what was a really undeserved Islanders win.
1. Ilya Sorokin’s Best NHL Start & is Building a Strong Rookie Campaign
Ilya Sorokin arrived to the Islanders pre-playoff bubble mini-camp as a thoroughly hyped goalie prospect with absurd SV% numbers throughout his time in the KHL. The opportunity to get him across the Atlantic had eluded the Islanders for so long, it only served to build his legend, to stack the expectations of the fanbase.
So when Sorokin did finally make the trans-Atlantic trip, obviously there were expectations of greatness. Maybe those expectations were too high at points, and maybe they only served to disappoint Islanders fans when the 25-year-old Russian was thrust last minute into his first NHL start at Madison Square Garden, earlier this season.
That first start didn’t end well, and the next few that followed, thanks in large part to a lack of goal support by his team, didn’t either.
Sorokin has shown flashes of elite athleticism, and a propensity for making flashy, dramatic glove saves since those first two starts. His game has still been a bit rough around the edges though. He’s allowed a soft goal here, a poorly placed rebound there, and has seemed lost in his net more than once despite a now eight-game win streak that dates back to February 16.
But there can only be one narrative after the Islanders Monday overtime win in Philadelphia. That narrative is that Ilya Sorokin won this game for his team, and did so with a thoroughly impressive performance that tops any he’s had in 2020-21.
Sorokin didn’t look the part of the hyped rookie goalie trying to find his way through his first NHL season on Monday. He looked like a player who has grown increasingly more comfortable in his role.
The Islander goalie tracked shots well throughout the game. He was called upon to make big saves a couple of times in order to keep his team in it, and when he had to he did so with a confidence we had not seen from him previously. Sorokin made 36 saves on 37 shots Monday, the only shot that beat him appeared to be redirected into the net by a kick from the Flyers’ Oskar Lindblom.
Lots of Islanders fans keep talking about needing a goalie who will steal their team a game, alluding to the idea that neither Sorokin nor Semyon Varlamov are capable of doing so. Well, it looks to me like Sorokin just stole the Islanders a game on Monday.