Ilya Sorokin admitted he started to feel like the Islanders were going down the same path again Saturday as the one that led to the seven preceding losses.
But the goaltender instead managed to stand in the visiting dressing room at the Saddledome as the winner for the first time in five starts, having anchored the Islanders through overtime and a shootout as they broke their losing streak with a 5-4 win over the Flames on Saturday.
“It’s good feelings,” Sorokin said. “Seven games without wins. A lot of games so close to the winner but we lose.”
The biggest star on the Islanders’ roster, Sorokin’s numbers have been a little more pedestrian this season than in recent seasons.
After Saturday, his save percentage sits at .906 and his goals allowed average at 3.32.
That is in no small part the fault of the defense in front of Sorokin, who has continued to make acrobatic saves look routine and keep the Islanders in games they would otherwise have little chance of winning. But still, a 35-save night in Calgary in which Sorokin made three of four stops in a dramatic shootout marked something of a return to normal.
So too did the reaction of Martin Pospisil after Sorokin’s denial of the Calgary forward’s seemingly golden chance to end the game in overtime.
“It hurts, you know?” Pospisil told reporters in the Calgary locker room. “It could have been over.”
“I think he didn’t have a lot of time,” Sorokin said. “So I just play a position. That’s it.”
That is the goalie the Islanders are used to getting, who makes superhuman look a mere matter of course.
“In every game when we lost, there were a lot of positive moments,” Sorokin said. “And we shoot, continue to do the right things and play 100 percent. So it’s a positive emotion. Have a couple days [between games], rest yesterday. Continue to go.”
The Flyers, who visit UBS Arena on Wednesday and Friday, have yet to win a game in the new building, with the Islanders having swept all four matches on Long Island over the last two seasons. Dating back to Nassau Coliseum, the Isles have beaten Philadelphia seven straight times at home.
The three-day break the Islanders have between games is tied with the league-mandated Christmas break for their longest of the first half. Not counting the All-Star break, there is a four-day break between home games Feb. 13-18.