Ilya Sorokin doesn’t dwell on his Islanders’ Game 3 collapse

RALEIGH, N.C. — When Ilya Sorokin stood in the tunnel after being pulled from Game 3 against the Hurricanes, all he could think about was the three goals he allowed.

“That’s it,” he said Monday. “Nothing else.”

With some time having passed since Thursday’s 3-2 loss to the Hurricanes, Sorokin has been able to take a forward-looking attitude and put the disastrous performance behind him.

Ilya Sorokin #30 of the New York Islanders makes a second period save in Game 3. NHLI via Getty Images

But even for someone who never tends to dwell on the past, even at the best of times, this was a little different.

“You should have a short memory,” Sorokin said, speaking publicly for the first time since Thursday. “If I think long and hard about all my goals. I’m a little crazy.

Still, he said, Game 3 was “history.”

Sorokin, goalie coach Piero Greco and goalie director Mitch Korn reviewed videotape of the game, he said, and didn’t see anything they hadn’t already worked on.

It’s been a trying season for Sorokin, whose form rarely faltered in his first three NHL seasons, or during his time in the KHL before that.

Ilya Sorokin watches from the bench during the third period of Game 3. P.A.

It’s not entirely clear why, but his consistency has finally broken this season, with a .924 save percentage in 2022-23 dropping to .908.

The Islanders waited for the problem to resolve itself, then stopped waiting at the end of the year when Semyon Varlamov supplanted Sorokin in the starting net.

“It’s just routine things that you do every day,” Sorokin said. “You should control these things. This is the position of the hands and the position of the body. It’s all about positioning. Hand positioning too.

Varlamov, who is in line to start Game 5 against Carolina on Tuesday night, will likely have the net for the rest of the playoffs.

As for what comes next, coach Patrick Roy still believes Sorokin can be a star.

“1986, the Montreal Canadiens won the Stanley Cup, the rookie goalie got MVP,” Roy said, referring to himself. “The following year, he sat on the bench. It happens to everyone. That’s why I say, that’s what we call it: a career. You have ups, you have downs, that’s how you bounce back.

“Ilya is a smart guy. He hasn’t forgotten how to play in goal because he may be going through a more difficult time. And I know he works hard in training. So if something happens, I know we can count on him. I have no doubt in my mind. But hey, it happened to me. This happened to him. And you know what? We grow from that. We become better because of these situations. Makes us realize that we have to work every day to achieve this.

Given that Sorokin is entering an eight-year contract extension next season, this is a significant show of faith from the head coach who publicly criticized the goaltender earlier this season.

Roy didn’t say anything to Sorokin about the third match, and Sorokin said it wasn’t necessary.

Even though Roy was a Hall of Fame goaltender, his job is to be the head coach, not the goalie coach, and he said from the start that he didn’t want to encroach on the territory of Greco.

Ilya Sorokin #30 of the New York Islanders makes a save in the 2nd period against the Carolina Hurricanes. Michelle Farsi/New York Post

It’s a tricky line to walk for anyone, but especially Roy, given his pedigree.

He may work hands-off directly with the goaltenders, but he remains a big voice in the room and the biggest voice speaking on behalf of the organization every day.

Everything he says or thinks about goaltending matters, and matters more than most non-Hall of Fame coaches at the position.

Sorokin, like everyone else, is eagerly recovering from the Game 3 debacle. And unless Varlamov is injured, the Islanders can give him the summer to recover.

That, they hope, will be enough to get him back into shape.

“New day,” Sorokin said. “What was in the past remains in the past. You can’t change that. You can just focus on today and keep working. That’s it.”

Matt Martin (lower body) did not practice Monday and will not play Tuesday, coach Patrick Roy said.

The Islanders have not yet decided who will take Martin’s place on the left side of the fourth line, but Simon Holmstrom skated there Monday.

The Hurricanes changed their lines in practice, with Jordan Staal centering a second line between Teuvo Teravainen and Seth Jarvis; Evgeny Kuznetsov skating between Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Stefan Noesen; and a fourth line composed of Martin Necas, Jack Drury and Jordan Martinook.

Varlamov will start Game 5 for the Islanders, Roy said.

New York Post

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