Sorokin in exclusive company with another shutout victory.
The New York Islanders had struggled against the Pittsburgh Penguins all year. Really, all decade if we’re honest. Even during their recent hot streak, Pittsburgh had their number.
So when the Isles earned a 2-0 victory over the Penguins on Sunday it was significant.
They Islanders are now tied for third in the MassMutual East Division with 26 points and are poised to make a return to the playoffs.
Sunday’s victory pointed a spotlight on rookie netminder Ilya Sorokin, who made history with his 20-save performance.
Sorokin became just the second rookie goalie in Islanders history to record back-to-back shutouts (coincidentally, Sorokin also made 20 saves in his first shutout).
He also became the second Islanders goaltender to shut out the Penguins since Kelly Hrudy did it on Jan. 9, 1986.
Sorokin also became just the eighth rookie goaltender in NHL history to post a shutout in each of his first two career regular season wins since Roman Čechmánek and Mathieu Garon during the 2000-01 season.
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) March 1, 2021
Sorokin has a 2.19 GAA and .912 SV% in five games this season and is improving dramatically as the year progresses.
Head coach Barry Trotz praised Sorokin’s performance on Sunday and noted that the 25-year-old looks more comfortable in net with each passing game.
Sorokin has a 0.86 GSAA and 2.55 GSAx on the season. The sample size is small, but he might just be what everyone expected.
Semyon Varlamov has been terrific this season as the Islanders’ number one netminder. Entering Monday he is tied with Chicago’s Kevin Lankinen for ninth among goaltenders with at least five games played with a .924 SV% and his nine wins are tied for fifth in the league.
As Sorokin continues to show improvement, the Islanders have one of the most effective goaltending tandems in the NHL.
Because Sorokin has looked so good, especially lately, he’ll likely be given more and more opportunities to start as the season progresses.
It’s unlikely that he’ll take the starting job from Varlamov, especially with the way the 32-year-old has been playing this season, but the kid has earned a larger work-load.
It will be interesting to see how Trotz will manage the situation as the playoffs approach, however.