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Islanders 4, Flyers 0: Keeping pace, another Sorokin shutout with two games to go

The Isles wobbled a bit in the first, but Ilya Sorokin kept things buttoned up until the Isles offense left no doubt.

Philadelphia Flyers v New York Islanders
Hello, friends.
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The New York Islanders notched another must-have win as they kept their wild card hopes alive with a 4-0 win over the afterthought Philadelphia Flyers.

With the Pittsburgh Penguins winning earlier in the day and the Florida Panthers completing a win before the Islanders’ game was over, the needs were clear and the Isles didn’t disappoint. Their four goals make 10 over the last two games, a refreshing and timely bit of comforting offense from a team more accustomed to winning 3-2 games.

Though they had a somewhat docile first period, Scott Mayfield’s point shot took a fortunate deflection in traffic to get them on the board first and ease any anxiety. The second period was much better, and in either case Ilya Sorokin was giving up nothing, making 27 saves for the Vezina candidate’s league-leading seventh sixth shutout.

One concern: Casey Cizikas left the game late after blocking a shot. He returned briefly, and the Isles had a comfortable lead at that point, so hopefully it’s not a lasting issue.

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The game could’ve gone differently if the Isles’ sluggish start had backfired, but Sorokin wasn’t letting that happen. And with a little under six minutes left in the first, Mayfield got that opener.

Midway through the second period, the Isles doubled their lead with two patented plays from the individuals who made them: Noah Dobson with the incisive long pass from deep in his own zone to spring Brock Nelson, who was clinical with the finish.

The Islanders thought would make it a daunting 3-0 lead at the second intermission, but only after a false hope was reversed. They appeared to finally convert on a power play — the first call of the game midway through the second — but Zach Parise’s goal was called back as he knocked it in with a high stick.

Also: Ryan Pulock almost blew the shutout:

Samuel Bolduc created comfortable breathing room when he wired in a wrist shot to make it 3-0, for real this time. He took a nice feed from Bo Horvat, who pulled up over the blueline after a great backhand, catapult pass off the boards from Simon Holmstrom deep in the Islanders zone.

It was just a great play by some guys who could use it — Bo Horvat, because points have been scarce (before last game), and Holmstrom and Bolduc as they try to establish themselves in the NHL.

But there is that concern to keep an eye on: Casey Cizikas left the ice after blocking a shot on the penalty kill midway through the third period, appearing to be in a lot of pain, perhaps taking it on the top of the foot. He was trying to walk it off and eventually did return to the ice, but then left for the final seven-plus minutes.

Even if it’s not something serious {crosses fingers}, those are the kinds of bruises and pains that can build up down the stretch. Hope it isn’t major and heals well before Monday.

The Flyers had one last chance to dent Sorokin’s shutout when Noah Dobson went to the box with under six minutes left. But that ended up being an easy kill for the Islanders, and not long after they piled on for the final goal.

J-G Pageau took a nice two-zone pass off the boards from Dobson, then passed under Ivan Provorov’s mildly interested stick to perfectly set up Hudson Fasching for the easy one-timer.

And that was that. The end was a formality, with fans buzzing and jumping to celebrate an important win amid semi-playoff-like stakes.

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Up Next

Two more to go: Monday in Washington against the Capitals, then Wednesday back home against the Canadiens. If the Islanders take care of their end, they won’t have to nervously scoreboard watch as the Panthers and Penguins finish up on Thursday.