- Isaac Brendel
Islanders Edge: Sorokin stellar as Isles defeat Flyers in shootout, slide into first place
photo credit: Al Bello/Getty Images
After a trade deadline splash by New York Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello, it was essential to set the tone and welcome Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac to their new home on Thursday night. If the Islanders beat the Philadelphia Flyers and the Washington Capitals lost to the Boston Bruins, New York could claim sole possession of first place in the MassMutual East Division.
In the first twenty minutes, New York was strong. They started the period great, scoring just 6:10 in. Brock Nelson scored his fifteenth goal of the season on assists from Ryan Pulock (14) and Anthony Beauvillier (7). Just 1:03 later, Jordan Eberle scored his fourteenth goal of the season, making it 2-0. Leo Komarov (5) got the lone assist on the goal. 7:27 into the first, Samuel Morin was assessed a five-minute major and game misconduct for boarding Casey Cizikas, who briefly left the ice and returned a few minutes later. On the power-play, New York achieved nothing. Head coach Barry Trotz even admitted after the game that he didn’t like his team’s drive from that point on. After the penalty had expired and New York posted a goose egg, Nicolas Aube-Kubel scored his third goal of the season. It came 13:53 into the period and was unassisted. The puck took a weird bounce off Ilya Sorokin’s blocker and stick and trickled into the net.
New York entered the second period with a 2-1 lead. That lead only lasted for 3:22, when Jakub Voracek beat Sorokin stick-side, knotting the game at two apiece. Claude Giroux (20) and Travis Konecny (18) picked up assists.
Sorokin stood on his head from the Voracek goal, stopping every shot he saw. Flyers goalie Carter Hart was no slouch either.
Neither team scored in the third period, sending the game into overtime.
Sure enough, Boston defeated Washington 4-2 in regulation time, meaning the Isles had grabbed sole possession of first place in the East Division standings regardless if they won or lost in the extra session(s). They picked up one point but weren’t nearly satisfied and looked to get the other.
Sorokin and Hart were both fantastic in overtime and continued to backstop their teams. With 1:58 remaining in the three-on-three period, New York went to the power-play, which they struggled mightily with in this game leading up to that point.
On the man advantage, New York once again failed to score and only created a few chances. For the second straight game between these two teams, the game needed a shootout to be settled.
In the first round, Eberle was rejected by Hart. Sorokin also closed the door on Sean Couturier.
In round two, Beauvillier was stopped. Sorokin flashed the leather on Nolan Patrick, making an outstanding glove save.
In the top of the third, Mathew Barzal was stopped by his Team Canada teammate. Flyers captain Claude Giroux was turned down with the game on his stick by “The White Whale.”
Josh Bailey missed the net in the fourth. Once again, with a chance to win, Philadelphia’s Konecny was beaten by Sorokin’s pad.
Brock Nelson sniped one past Hart in the top of the fifth. Sorokin also denied Joel Farabee, giving the Islanders the two points at stake.
By no means was his game pretty for the Isles. Palmieri and Zajac fit in well and will improve as they get accustomed to the structure. They are now in first place by two points, playing the same amount of games as the Washington Capitals.
Big games lie ahead, including Friday night against their arch-rival New York Rangers. They look to put the Rangers, and their slim playoff hopes to sleep and pick up another four points in their next two games against the Blueshirts. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 PM Eastern Time.