The New York Islanders had trouble getting goals past Coyotes goalie Karel Vejmelka Tuesday night in Elmont, but that’s okay because they weren’t letting much reach Ilya Sorokin, and Sorokin wasn’t letting any of that by him.
Their 1-0 victory came from a 14(!)-save shutout from the Islanders goalie and a power play goal (!) from Mat Barzal on a one-timer (!) right at the beginning of an extra-man opportunity that Barzal himself drew.
With his 17th career regular season shutout, Sorokin moved up the Islanders’ all-time list, passing Rick DiPietro. Only Billy Smith (22) and Chico Resch (25) remain ahead of him. Crazy how quickly he has climbed that list and signaled that he will one day be in the debate for best goalie in franchise history.
The defensive effort also came in their first game without Scott Mayfield. Samuel Bolduc entered the lineup and logged a very conservative 9:19 on 11 even-strength shifts, while Sebastian Aho logged 16:23.
Entering the third with a one-goal lead — and having conceded only six shots on goal through 40 minutes — the Islanders logged the first five shots of the final frame. After that Arizona made their push and Sorokin did his best work, but the Isles were steady and Trotzian in limiting major chances. (The coaching change two summers ago was ostensibly meant to unleash more offense, yet the more they play like their Trotzian years, the better their results.)
Barzal’s power play goal, which came 3:47 into the second, was refreshing in its decisiveness. It was a simple play, point-to-left-wing for a one-timer, but it came right after the power play began, and may have taken Vejmelka just a bit by surprise; the Islanders rarely shoot right off the bat.
#Isles Barzal on PP coming through:— Stefen Rosner (@stefen_rosner) October 18, 2023
“Those are the ones you sometimes need […] Our structure 5-on-5 is always going to be kind of tight, a tight hockey game, so that's why I've said that we need to get our power play going if we're going to be a contender.”
This three-game homestand concludes Friday when the Devils visit. Though they’ve played only two games, the Islanders are currently tied for the Metro lead with an unblemished record.