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Islanders: Three reasons Game 1 win was more important than you think

PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA - MAY 16: The New York Islanders celebrate their 4-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins during overtime in Game One of the First Round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at PPG PAINTS Arena on May 16, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA - MAY 16: The New York Islanders celebrate their 4-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins during overtime in Game One of the First Round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at PPG PAINTS Arena on May 16, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)
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New York Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin (30) takes the ice against the Pittsburgh Penguins. (Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)

Next-Gen Showed Up

Oliver Wahlstrom, Noah Dobson, and Ilya Sorokin all played big roles for the Islanders yesterday. And all three had a combined 1 playoff game of experience before puck drop. That lone game of playoff experience belongs to Noah Dobson who played 12:55 in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

All three are important pieces for the Islanders now and going forward. But yesterday was the first time they’d hit that ice in an NHL playoff game (sorta, again Dobson played once already) and they all performed well.

Ilya Sorokin (3GA, 0.929SV%, 39 saves)

It might have been his first NHL playoff game but he’s been to a playoff before. It was just in the second-best hockey league in the world. Sorokin has 69 KHL playoff games of experience to call on with a 50-17 record and an average 0.940SV% and 1.37GAA. Insane numbers.

So maybe we shouldn’t have been worried, but the last time Sorokin made his debut when he wasn’t scheduled to it didn’t go so well. There’d be no repeat this time.

Sure, he allowed three goals against, but the game could have been lost if his performance was less than stellar. A particular toe stop on a Sidney Crosby re-directed effort on the power play stands out right now.

Oliver Wahlstrom (1A, 2SOG, 4 Hits)

He’s officially a point-per-game player in the playoffs with a secondary helper on Palmieri’s game-winning goal. Wahlstrom didn’t do anything magical on the play, all he did was provide Scott Mayfield with an option along the boards to exit the D-zone after a faceoff win.

That’s it. After the draw, Wahlstrom gunned it to the wall to give Mayfield an outlet. It’s simple stuff, but that’s all that matters in this system. Do the simple things right and you’ll be rewarded.

Add four hits, two shots, and a +2 and it’s clear Wahlstrom’s confidence went up a notch or two. That could be incredible going forward. A confident Oliver Wahlstrom is one that scores. Look out in Game 2.

Noah Dobson (1A, 1SOG, 1 Block, 1 TKA)

The more experienced of the three, Dobson had a solid day out. Not only by providing a secondary helper on Palmieri’s opening goal. He got that helper by breaking up a John Marino pass at the Islanders blue line.

Again, you wouldn’t think that such a play would end up being rewarded on the scoresheet, but that’s the beauty of the Barry Trotz system.

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