NY Islanders Ilya Sorokin was good this series, but needed to be great

Carolina Hurricanes v New York Islanders - Game Six
Carolina Hurricanes v New York Islanders - Game Six / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

Ilya Sorokin will have to better next time; he's too good not to be.

The NY Islanders goaltender and likely Vezina Trophy finalist is the reason the team went as far as they did this season and in this series and was having his best game of the series in Game 6 when Paul Stastny's sharp-angled shot deflected off the inside of his pad and into the net to end the Isles season. He made 39 of 41 saves, including 18 in a third period where the team was outshot 19-5.

Sorokin was good this series, sometimes great, but wasn't elite - and the Islanders needed him to find that next level to advance deep into the playoffs. and it just didn't happen. For the series, he posted a .929 save % and 2.60 GAA.

"He was spectacular for us all season and all playoffs," defenseman Ryan Pulock said.

"There's so much more to it than that. We'll stick together in this room. Everyone has each other's backs here and it's going sting for everyone. Wel'l find a way out of it and find a way to get our minds right for next year."

Carolina Hurricanes v New York Islanders - Game Six
Carolina Hurricanes v New York Islanders - Game Six / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

The Islanders blew third-period leads in Games 2 and 6, and lost both in overtime, the two games that decided the series. Neither loss is completely on Sorokin, far from it, but in both games, there were goals allowed that simply couldn't go in, which made the difference.

In Game 2, with the Islanders up 3-2 midway through the third period, Jaccob Slavin's shot from below the goal line banked in off of Sorokin's mask. Jesper Fast won the game in OT following the controversial no-call on a high stick to the face of Scott Mayfield. It was a great shot by Fast, but Sorokin was caught deep in his net as he slid over in the crease.

Then last night, a seemingly innocent shot from another nearly impossible angle beat Sorokin again. Like the Slavin goal, if his positioning was better, a goal like that, one with a very tiny chance of happening, doesn't happen.

"The goalies... we wouldn't be here without them," defenseman Scott Mayfield said. "They know that. They know how special they are. Now this group was so close with each other. Sorokin is a world-class, all-star goalie. He should be right up there in all the MVP talks, how important he is to our team and what he's been able to do. Just a special player."

This was Sorokin's first season where he was slated as the No. 1 goaltender from the start of the season, and the 27-year-old delivered everything that could've been expected and more. His presence alone is reason enough to be confident that the Islanders will be back in the postseason.

When they are, he'll have to learn from this experience and reach the level of play everyone knows he more than capable of, a level that will win series for the Islanders in the postseason.