NewsdayTV's Jamie Stuart and Newsday Islanders beat writer Andrew Gross spoke about some of head coach Patrick Roy's decisions leading up to Game 3 vs. the Hurricanes on Thursday night. Credit: Newsday Staff; Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke; AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker

Bo Horvat believes the Islanders, down 2-0 in their first-round series to the Hurricanes heading into Thursday night’s Game 3 at UBS Arena, have let down goalie Semyon Varlamov. Especially as they blew a three-goal lead in Monday night’s 5-3 loss in Game 2 in Raleigh.

“He’s been phenomenal the first two games for us,” Horvat said after the Islanders’ intense 45-minute practice at Northwell Health Ice Center in East Meadow on Wednesday. “For sure, we could have been a lot better in front of him. I even told him that he played a heck of a game and that one was on us and we’ve got to be better for him.”

Except now the Islanders will try to play better in front of Ilya Sorokin, with coach Patrick Roy announcing the goalie switch after practice.

“We knew we have two usable goalies,” Roy said. “They’re both sharp and Varly had a lot of shots the last game. So it will be good to have someone fresh for tomorrow.”

Varlamov made 34 saves on Monday — the Hurricanes held a whopping 110-28 advantage in total attempts — after a 23-save performance in the Hurricanes' 3-1 win in Saturday’s Game 1.

Sorokin, the No. 1 goalie until Roy started Varlamov in eight of 12 matches down the stretch as the Islanders ended with an 8-0-1 run, last played when he made 40 saves in a 5-4 win over the Penguins on April 17 in the regular-season finale.

Sorokin went 25-19-12 with a 2.99 goals-against average and a .909 save percentage a season after finishing second in the Vezina Trophy balloting as the NHL’s top goalie.

He is 6-5 lifetime in the NHL playoffs with a 2.70 GAA and .925 save percentage and was in the net for the entirety of the Islanders’ six-game loss to the Hurricanes in last season’s first round.

Varlamov was 14-8-4 with a 2.60 GAA and .918 save percentage in the regular season.

“Varly and Ilya have such a good relationship and they help each other,” Roy said. “Ilya understood what was going on because Varly was playing so well. I think it was just normal. I just feel [Sorokin] is coming in in the perfect scenario. We’re down two-nothing in the series and now he’s going in and all he can do is go in and enjoy the ride.”

Roy said he saw improvement in Sorokin’s rebound control over his last few starts. That will be a crucial factor against the Hurricanes given how that team launches pucks at the crease from anywhere in the offensive zone.

“He’s been controlling his rebounds better,” said Roy, the Hall of Fame goalie who was named Islanders coach on Jan. 20. “I feel like he was maybe giving too many rebounds at the beginning. Right now, the puck starts to stay closer, like Varly does so well. He’s been keeping the puck closer to him. He should see a lot of shots. And if he sees a lot of shots, I think he’s responding really well to that.”

Notes & quotes: Matt Martin (maintenance) did not practice on Wednesday with Ruslan Iskhakov skating in his spot as the fourth-line left wing. The rookie could make his NHL playoff debut in Game 3. “That’s a possibility,” Roy said. “We’ll make a decision tomorrow night regarding if Marty could play or not." . . . Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said defenseman Brett Pesce, who exited Game 2 with a lower-body injury, likely will miss the rest of the series . . . Hurricanes right wing Jesper Fast (upper body), who has yet to play in the series, did not practice on Wednesday.

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