NY Islanders Ilya Sorokin had a game to forget in Game 2 loss in Carolina
Let's imagine Antti Raanta had the game Ilya Sorokin had last night. What would the narrative be this morning as the series shifts to Long Island for Game 3? It would be that Raanta was shaky and unsettled in net all night, that Carolina should go to Frederik Andersen in Game 3, and that he let an opportunity for Carolina to go up 2-0 in the playoff series slip away.
We're not suggesting that Sorokin be replaced in favor of Semyon Varlamov; he's the main reason the Islanders are in the playoffs and has bounced back from bad starts all season, and has played extremely well at UBS Arena this year. What we are saying is that there is no way to ignore that the Islanders lost Game 2 because Sorokin had a very bad night - especially given the expectations for him to be the difference in the series for the Islanders.
Sorokin allowed four goals on 36 shots on Wednesday night, and three of them were avoidable. Yes, two of them were "fluky," but those types of plays just can't happen in the playoffs and certainly can't happen twice in the same game.
On the Sebastian Aho own goal that he batted backward from the half boards, Sorokin was caught off-guard, didn't track the puck, and reacted until it was too late as it bounced off the ice and by him to give Carolina a 2-0 lead.
The next goal allowed was worse. The Islanders had stormed back to take a 3-2 lead after Brock Nelson gave them their first lead of the series. Carolina was having a difficult time generating scoring chances at even strength, but Jaccob Slavin tied it 3-3 at 12:19 from the goal line when he shot a wrister off Sorokin's mask and in. Did Slavin do this on purpose?
Hard to know, but we do know the NHL is no longer a league where only the top players score goals from these angles. It wasn't intended as a pass, so we're inclined to give Slavin credit here. But if Sorokin had better positioning and was hugging the goalpost, that goal does not happen. On the replay, you can see Sorokin down on a knee, worried about the centering pass, given Slavin's left-handed shot, produced the opening for the unfortunate deflection off his mask.
On the game-winning goal in OT, Jesper Fast undoubtedly made a great shot, and Jordan Staal made a great pass, but again Sorokin's positioning was again suspect as he was caught much too deep in his net. In looking at the replay, you can see as the puck sails over his arm, Sorokin had slid all the way into the left goal post, and his momentum was still carrying him in that direction as Fast let off his shot. If Sorokin is further out of the crease, it's a save he likely makes.
Understandably, the focus was on the Scott Mayfield high-sticking no call and the fact that Islanders didn't get a power play opportunity to the Hurricanes six on the night, but the game was winnable if Sorokin had an average night. The 27-year-old likely Vezina finalist is supposed to be the reason why the Isles win games they aren't suppose to win and cannot be reason the Isles lose games where they outplay their opponents. That was unfortunately the case in Game 2.