Ilya Sorokin delivers for Islanders in loss to Lightning

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Fans had high expectations for Ilya Sorokin entering the season. The rookie netminder somehow exceeded them.

Game 2 added to his impressive first-year résumé. The Islanders lost 4-2 in Tampa, but Sorokin gave his team something to smile about.

When Semyon Varlamov was bulldozed by Lightning forward Brayden Point — courtesy of a push by Adam Pelech — in the first period, the concussion spotter at Amalie Arena removed the Islanders’ starter from the contest. Sorokin entered.

Varlamov returned to begin the second frame, but Sorokin’s impact was not forgotten. He made six saves, including two big ones as the Islanders killed a Leo Komarov interference penalty.

“That is not an easy situation to be put in,” Islanders forward Matt Martin said after the loss. “Obviously, coming in cold against probably the highest-powered offensive team in the league, and he did a great job and made some key saves. He got us to the second period and allowed [Varlamov] to get back in there. So hats off to him.”

Ilya Sorokin makes a stop during the Islanders' Game 2 loss.
Ilya Sorokin makes a stop during the Islanders’ Game 2 loss.
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While he only played 6:50, Sorokin was cool, calm and collected when called upon. He was prepared for his opportunity and once again proved to head coach Barry Trotz that he does not get fazed by the pressure.

“Sorokin came in and did a good job,” Trotz said. “He is fantastic. He is a low-maintenance goaltender. He is a total pro. He works at his game daily. Even if he does not get the call, he goes through his total gameday routine. And that is why he has been so consistent for us.”

Sorokin has come a long way. In his first NHL appearance in January, he had to start on short notice after forward Cal Clutterbuck injured Varlamov in warm-ups with a shot to the neck. He allowed five goals in the loss.

Five months later, in a similar situation, Sorokin shined.

Without the young netminder, the Islanders would not be where they are now. His four wins against the Penguins in the first round gave the Islanders a much-needed boost that propelled them to a series victory.

The Islanders are the third team in NHL history (’72 Bruins and ’80 Flyers) to have two goaltenders win four or more consecutive starts in the playoffs.

“Through my time here, at least, we have had good goalies,” Islanders defenseman Scott Mayfield told reporters after the game. “This year, we have two outstanding goalies. It takes a little pressure off us. They are great guys and great teammates, and we love playing in front of them.”

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