It's challenging to think of new adjectives to describe NY Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin each time he makes a highlight reel save. Last night, the backbone of the Islanders made two acrobatic saves to give the Isles hope in a game where the penalty kill was far from its best, allowing four goals.
The first came with a 1-0 lead late in the first period, as a botched clearance caught the Isles defense in a change. Jack Hughes slid into the empty space, displaying his stick skills just outside the crease. A backhand effort, which would have beaten most goalies, was snagged out of the air by Sorokin to preserve the Isles lead.
"It's kind of a broken record in terms of how good we say he is," said Brock Nelson following the Isles 5-4 loss in overtime. "But he goes out there and proves it. He proves it every night, and he's a gamer. All those saves give us a chance to win, which is huge for our group, and he was the best player."
Sorokin wasn't done there, as his second period save might have been more impressive than the first. Curtis Lazar tipped a shot from the point, which redirected right into the path of an oncoming Nathan Bastian. Sorokin, who was at the far post, pushed off his right foot into a full split, making it to the other side just in time for a toe save, keeping the game nodded up at three with three minutes remaining in the stanza.
"He was phenomenal as usual," said Bo Horvat, who tied the game up with just over a minute remaining to force overtime. "Making huge saves at huge times. You know, I think we could have been better in front of him, but he held the door strong for us today."
Never one to flaunt his achievements, Sorokin thought of Hughes's overtime winner more than the jaw-dropping saves he had made. When asked about his first save on Hughes by Stefan Rosner of The Hockey News, Sorokin responded saying; "I just remember Hughes goal in overtime."
Sorokin has been phenomenal through three games for the Isles, allowing just two goals at 5v5. He'll likely get the night off, making way for Semyon Varlamov, as the Isles travel to Western New York to take on the Buffalo Sabres for the second time the season, in the second of a back-to-back.