On Monday night, we watched New York Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin return to the form we've grown accustomed to during his short NHL career. His 46-save shutout (in a loss) versus the Colorado Avalanche stole a point for the Isles against the defending Stanley Cup Champions and is already his third shutout this season.
"[Sorokin] played great. It was good to see," New York coach Lane Lambert said. "He fought through traffic, fought through deflections, things like that. He was outstanding. I thought we battled. We battled hard. It's a good point for us to have.
Sorokin’s 46-save performance was the second-most for a goaltender in a non-winnings shutout in NHL history, behind only Curtis Joseph’s 52-save game in a tie on Dec. 10, 1996. It’s the second most saves for the 27-year-old in a shutout behind only his 49-save performance vs. Edmonton on Nov. 23.
His propensity for the shutout continues to stand out compared to his peers. The 27-year-old Russian net-minder now has 13 career shutouts in 94 starts meaning that an incredible 13.8% of his starts have ended in a shutout.
Sorokin has the most shutouts in the NHL over the last two seasons (Jacob Markstrom, 9 is second). In his short Islanders career, he is already fifth in franchise history in shutouts with 13, trailing Tommy Salo (14) and Rick DiPietro (16). If he stays healthy - and signs long-term, passing Billy Smith (22) and Glenn Resch (25) should be a sure thing.
Whatever mild - and do mean mild - concern there was for Sorokin was eliminated with his performance on Monday night. He allowed some bad goals in recent games, but there was also some bad luck. Outside of the game against St. Louis, the stats were a bit misleading which is why his teammates didn't consider the 46-save performance as a bounce back game.
“There were a couple of pretty odd bounces in Arizona that you can’t do anything about,” Zach Parise said after the game versus the Avs. “He’s played great, and he played great again tonight.”
There’s a level of consistency we’d still like to see from Sorokin, but what he has shown consistently is the ability to be dominant when at the top of his game. That’s what elite goaltenders do. The opponents know it’s not their night, and they have a better chance of getting lucky than beating the goaltender clean. When Sorokin is at his best, a shutout is an outcome we've come to expect.