Islanders’ Ilya Sorokin found next level in timely road trip dominance

DETROIT — The difference between good goaltending and great goaltending was clear for the Islanders this season.

Ilya Sorokin a year ago was great. According to Evolving Hockey, he had a .924 save percentage, an astonishing 51.36 goals saved over expectations, and was a finalist for the Vezina Trophy, helping the Islanders reach the playoffs.

Sorokin fell a little short of that standard this year.

No one will begrudge him after he posted a better-than-expected .909 save percentage and 9.18 save percentage in Thursday’s 5-3 win over Detroit.

Ilya Sorokin made a save in the Islanders’ 5-3 win over the Red Wings. Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

However, it seems unlikely that he will finish in Vezina’s top three for the second year in a row.

But if Sorokin can rediscover that special level of his game over the final six weeks of the season, the Islanders’ playoff hopes could once again take a big turn. And on a two-game road trip, he did just that.

“Every time I win, I feel good,” said the normally reserved Sorokin. “Let’s get some rest and get ready for the next game.”

Based on the raw numbers, Sorokin’s wins against Dallas and Detroit weren’t surprising. In all, he stopped 52 of 57 shots, and Islanders coach Patrick Roy noted how well the defense played in front of him against the Red Wings.

But Sorokin made well-timed saves, stopping Roop Hintz from running away in the third inning at Dallas, had a perfect night on the penalty kill at Detroit, and stretched in two on Patrick Kane to protect the post. He was an extremely reliable player. -One chance late in the third on Thursday.

Ilya Sorokin regains his composure during the Islanders' win.
Ilya Sorokin regains his composure during the Islanders’ win. Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The official score credited Sorokin with the save on Kane, but the Islanders believed the shot hit the post. Anyway, his toes were in the stop position.

As focused as ever, Sorokin didn’t think he would reach another level these days and didn’t think much about it.

“I can’t say about this [because] If I say something, something will happen in the next game,” he said. “That’s all I can do. Just focus on the details. Don’t look at the big picture.”

Hudson Fassing (lower body) will likely be recalled soon from a conditioning stint with AHL Bridgeport, but will not return from long-term injured reserve. Samuel Bolduc is not injured but will continue on conditioning duties for the time being.

Scott Mayfield (lower body) and Robert Bortuzzo (high ankle sprain) have yet to skate independently while back in New York.



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