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Islanders' Ilya Sorokin notches second shutout in two nights

Islanders center Josh Bailey celebrates with center Jean-Gabriel

Islanders center Josh Bailey celebrates with center Jean-Gabriel Pageau and defenseman Noah Dobson after scoring a goal against the Golden Knights in the first period during an NHL game on Sunday in Las Vegas. Credit: AP/Rick Scuteri

LAS VEGAS — Islanders coach Barry Trotz doesn’t often play the same goalie on consecutive nights. After Ilya Sorokin’s brilliant weekend, he might reconsider that.

Sorokin notched his second shutout in 24 hours, making 42 saves as the Islanders — outplayed in the first two periods — beat Vegas and former teammate Robin Lehner, 2-0, on Sunday night at T-Mobile Arena.

Sorokin had stopped 26 shots in Saturday night’s 3-0 win over the Coyotes in Arizona. Trotz said he considered giving Cory Schneider his first start for the Islanders but ultimately stuck with Sorokin for a sixth straight game.

"He’s been outstanding," Casey Cizikas said. "He’s won us games and he’s kept us in games. Back-to-back shutouts to finish a road trip, that’s big. You can see him, he’s comfortable in there, he’s confident in there. He’s not giving too many second opportunities up."

The Islanders’ season-opening 13-game road trip is far from over, but they will not play again until Saturday in Nashville, so they returned to New York.

The Islanders (3-2-1) certainly haven’t played pretty hockey in their first six games — to be honest, they rarely do — but they now have points in four straight games.

"I think to get a few wins builds our confidence," Jean-Gabriel Pageau said. "It was a long trip for everyone, but I think it was a good trip to get together and get to know each other. Battle through adversity. We finished the trip strong and we’re happy what we did on this trip."

Sorokin became the first Islanders goalie to start back-to-back games since Lehner did so on March 23-24, 2019.

"He’s always working on his game," Mathew Barzal said. "For him to have the nights the last three or four games that he did, just standing in there for us, it was huge for our team. I think his confidence is just building every game."

Lehner stopped 24 shots, but Vegas (1-4-0) lost its fourth straight game. The Islanders’ three wins have come against teams that are a combined 1-14-2.

Josh Bailey made it 1-0 at 2:16 of the first period on the Islanders’ first rush out of their zone after Vegas pressed off the opening faceoff, with Sorokin kicking out his left pad to stop defenseman Dylan Coughlan’s shot from the right point through traffic on the first shift. Bailey, at the right post, knocked in the rebound of Pageau’s try from the slot.

It was Bailey’s 514th career point, moving him past Bobby Nystrom into sole possession of 10th place on the Islanders’ all-time scoring list.

"It helps on the tail end of a back-to-back on the road. We’ve had a long trip. Getting off to a quick start and getting a lead is certainly a good thing," Bailey said. "Sorokin made some huge saves. He was a real backbone for us. But I thought the guys did a great job in front of him."

Bailey then notched point No. 515 as he forced a turnover to set up Barzal’s goal at 7:33 of the third period. Barzal, skating in from the right, beat Lehner over his left shoulder to the short side, just under the crossbar.

The Islanders were outshot 14-4 in the second period, but Sorokin denied Reilly Smith at the right post at 1:22, went into a split to stone Keegan Kolesar at the right post at 5:44 and gloved Chandler Stephenson’s backhander from low in the slot at 18:53.

He also stopped five shots after Lehner was pulled for an extra skater at 17:39.

The Islanders improved to 22-4-4 in the second game of back-to-back sets under Trotz.

"To me, people make a big deal of the back-to-backs," Trotz said. "Emotionally, you’ve got to dig down again. Physically, you might have a little less in the tank. But to me, it’s all about mindset. It’s all about mental toughness because the guys are really in good shape."

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