The New York Islanders didn’t play a great game by any stretch of the imagination. But, they managed two points in Philly anyhow.
In what has become more than a troubling trend, the New York Islanders struggled for the first forty or so minutes of Sunday’s win at the Philadelphia Flyers. It was an often frustrating performance that could’ve caused the most level-headed of fans to lose their patience.
In the end, the Islanders stole a win in overtime to catapult them back into second place in the East. Here are three takeaways from the win.
1. Sorokin’s Strong Performance in Goal
Ilya Sorokin has been up and down in 2020-21 with performances that have ranged from outright bad, to shaky but adequate, to very good. Sunday was one of those very good performances, and it needed to be for the 25-year-old Russian.
Sorokin made 30 saves to seal his third shutout of the season, the most by an Islanders rookie in a single season since Chico Resch in 1974-75. He also tied Alex Nedeljkovic of the Carolina Hurricanes for the most shutouts this season by a rookie.
Sorokin has been very good for the Islanders since he bombed pretty hard against the Pittsburgh Penguins on March 27. Since then, he’s saved 134 of 142 shots against for a .943 SV% in five starts. He’d allowed two goals a game and posted a 3-1-0 record in his previous four starts entering Sunday, with all three of those wins coming in their overtime or the shootout.
Unfortunately, as you can probably figure out based on those numbers, the Islanders haven’t provided the sort of goal support Sorokin deserves recently. They’ve scored a combined six regulation goals in Sorokin’s last five starts, which is right in line with this Islanders team’s fizzling offensive performances in the last couple of weeks.
That continued on Sunday, as the Isles failed to show up for the first two periods of action, and had pretty much only Sorokin to thank for the score remaining tied into the third. The numbers don’t exactly do Philadelphia’s performance justice in the second period, but they’re very lopsided in the first frame.
The Islanders allowed 41 total shot attempts (Corsi Against) through 40 minutes, and 30 of those attempts went unblocked (Fenwick Against). They were outdone in the scoring chances metric 17-9, (with 13 Flyers chancing coming in the first period) and the high danger chances favored Philly 6-3 after the middle frame had concluded. All numbers thanks to Natural Stat Trick.
Despite all that, the game remained scoreless thanks to Sorokin, and Brian Elliott, who probably deserves a bit more credit than the eye test might’ve shown, as the Islanders did begin to find their scoring chances in the middle of the second frame.
By the third period, Philadelphia, on the second leg of a back-to-back, looked gassed out. Yet, they still managed to get their scoring chances despite the Islanders having the better of play by that point, and still, Sorokin stood tall.
Whatever your opinion on Sorokin was, I’m sure it’s shifted in a positive direction after Sunday’s game. There were a lot of fair questions to be asked about the Islanders goalie prospect in his early NHL starts. But he’s been pretty great lately, and Sunday he was on his game in a big way.