Ilya Sorokin of the Islanders cools off during a break in the...

Ilya Sorokin of the Islanders cools off during a break in the second period against the Lightning at UBS Arena on Sunday. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Ilya Sorokin’s first chance to start against countryman Andrei Vasilevskiy of the Lightning, the standard-bearer of a solid roster of Russian goalies in the NHL, ended poorly for both the player and the Islanders.

The Lightning won, 4-1, on Sunday afternoon at UBS Arena and Sorokin left the game after two periods with an upper-body injury that may prevent him from traveling to Columbus for Tuesday night’s game against the Blue Jackets.

Sorokin was not on the bench for the third period after taking a puck to the mask in both the first and second periods. He stopped 18 of 20 shots before exiting in favor of fellow Russian Semyon Varlamov (12 saves) and is 22-14-7 with a 2.30 goals-against average and a .927 save percentage.

“He’s been huge,” coach Barry Trotz said. “He’s a guy that can steal you games. Every night we feel we match up against their goaltender, no matter who it is in the league.”

The Islanders (28-27-9) had their home winning streak snapped at six games and lost both games of a weekend back-to-back against playoff-bound teams after Saturday afternoon’s 6-3 road loss to the Bruins.

Vasilevskiy made 23 saves for the two-time Stanley Cup champion Lightning (41-18-6), who took control in the third period on goals from Ross Colton at 9:10 and Mikhail Sergachev at 16:56. Alex Killorn, on the rush off Anthony Cirelli’s feed, scored the go-ahead goal at 9:47 of the second period.

The game was the first between the teams on Long Island since Anthony Beauvillier’s overtime goal gave the Islanders a 3-2 overtime win in Game 6 of their NHL semifinal in what turned out to be the final game at Nassau Coliseum. The Lightning then eliminated the Islanders for the second straight season in the NHL final four with a 1-0 win in Game 7.

“The last two years have been some great battles,” said Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman, whose power-play goal at 1:10 of the second period tied the score at 1. “You know nothing happened at the [trade] deadline. They believe in that team. I probably would, too. They got all the talent and great goaltending. I don’t know what happened to Sorokin, but they’ve got two great goaltenders.”

Sorokin was not eligible to play in the Eastern Conference finals between the teams in 2020 and made two relief appearances in the Lightning’s seven-game win in 2021. The teams did not meet in the regular season last season and Varlamov started the Islanders’ 4-1 loss at Tampa Bay on Nov. 15.

Sorokin, at 26, is just one year younger than Vasilevskiy. But Vasilevskiy made his NHL debut in 2014 and won the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s top goalie in 2019.

“Ilya, I’m sure he knows all those guys,” said Brock Nelson, who opened the scoring with his 31st goal at 18:14 of the first period, giving him 12 goals in 15 games in March. “He’s good buddies with [the Rangers’ Igor] Shesterkin. I’m sure he knows them from international play back home. He takes a lot of pride in playing against those guys. I’m sure it’s special for him to play against guys he grew up or played with back home.”

Given his strong development this season, having Sorokin miss any time would be a disappointment.

“With the transition of coming from the KHL, you can see he’s so calm and confident out there,” Nelson said. “He’s never out of a save, no matter what kind of play it is. He’s put some time into learning English. He’s one of us and he’s a huge part of our team and will be moving forward.”

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