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Islanders Ilya Sorokin announces elite level status in Game 5

PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA - MAY 24: Ilya Sorokin #30 of the New York Islanders makes a save against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the first overtime period in Game Five of the First Round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at PPG PAINTS Arena on May 24, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA - MAY 24: Ilya Sorokin #30 of the New York Islanders makes a save against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the first overtime period in Game Five of the First Round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at PPG PAINTS Arena on May 24, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)
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We already knew Ilya Sorokin was good. We all watched the New York Islanders 2014 draft pick kill it in Russia. For years he put up video game numbers in what is the second-best professional hockey league in the world.

After he signed in 2020, the thought was clear; if he could be as good in the NHL, he could be something special. Maybe even one of the elite goalies in the league. And while he had a good regular season, in Game 5 he announced to the world that he is in fact an elite-level keeper.

New York Islanders Ilya Sorokin confirms he’s elite

Through three periods of regulation play and headed to OT, the New York Islanders were tied 2-2 with the Pittsburgh Penguins. And that’s all thanks to Ilya Sorokin.

Sure, Anthony Beauvillier scored a wonderful solo goal, Jordan Eberle found the back of the net again and Josh Bailey converted in double OT (on a Tristan Jarry oopsie). But without Sorokin’s performance tonight, it’s easily a 5-2 game for the Penguins through regulation.

Here are some of the stats that tell just how good Sorokin was today:

-48 saves on 50 shots
-1.00HDSV% (9 saves on 9 shots)
-1.85 goals saved above expected (at 5on5)
-0.977SV% at 5on5

(Advanced numbers from NaturalStatTrick.)

All of those numbers are elite. Then you have to consider that his team wasn’t generating much offensively to help him out. Sorkin was hung out to dry and still played this well. The Islanders generated 18 shots (in all strengths) after the first period. The Penguins had 20 shots in the second period alone.

The percentage of expected goals-for were in the Penguins favor the entire game with 67.5% in P1, 70.99% in P2, 66.19% in P3, and 57.53% in OT1.

Elite goalies find a way to keep their teams in games they have no reason being in. Like today. The Islanders were the second-best team tonight by a long shot. Saving them was the efforts of Ilya Sorokin. He was the first, second, and third star.

Sorokin’s breakout performance – if you can say that about a guy who’s been solid all year – proves he’s the elite-level goalie we knew he could be.

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