Ilya Sorokin returned to form for the NY Islanders on Saturday's big stage

New York Islanders v Columbus Blue Jackets
New York Islanders v Columbus Blue Jackets / Jason Mowry/GettyImages

New York Islanders head coach Patrick Roy has a different approach than his predecessors when it comes to sharing which goaltender will be between the pipes for a given game. Where it's become the norm not to know which goaltender would start until after morning skate, Roy has told the media his plans well in advance and often what the plan is over multiple games.

With Semyon Varlamov "in the zone," as Roy put it, he elected to play him on Thursday against the Montreal Canadiens. Varly was solid once again, tested with high-quality chances, though the Islanders only allowed 14 shots on the night. After the 3-2 overtime win on Thursday, Roy was asked if Varlamov's performance changed his stated plan for Saturday or if Ilya Sorokin would still get the start. Roy didn't waver and put the team's franchise goaltender in the spotlight against Igor Shesterkin on national TV at Madison Square Garden for the matinee showdown.

Sorokin had won his previous two starts against the Chicago Blackhawks and Columbus Blue Jackets, but appeared to be fighting the puck and not as settled in his crease compared to Varlamov who has had a calming presence fro the team during the most recent six-game winning streak.

Ilya Sorokin
New York Islanders v New York Rangers / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

However, on Saturday, Sorokin returned to form, making 41 saves through regulation and overtime and some spectacular variety as he matched his friend Shesterkin save-for-save. Per NaturalStatrick, the Rangers had 5.31 expected goals, and Sorokin was not at fault for either of the two allowed, which included the picture-perfect shot by Artemi Panarin that tied the game off a face-off win.

"He's unbelievable. It's kind of sad that he faced as much criticism as he did in the first place, but he's unbelievable, said Hudson Fasching in The Hockey News. "He looked great out there today, and we're happy for him. We trust him back there so much."

The fanbase will likely remain divided as to whether Sorokin was deserving if the criticism sent his way due to the ridiculously high bar he set last season. However, the fanbase is united in recognizing how important he is for the short and long-term future of the franchise and Saturday's performance was a very positive sign that he is capable of regaining his Vezina finalist form at the perfect time.