Islanders on issue of allowing multiple goals in quick succession: ‘Don’t allow it to snowball like that’

Islanders Red Wings Sorokin
New York Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin (30) leaves the ice after the overtime period of an NHL hockey game against the Detroit Red Wings, Monday, Oct. 30, 2023, in Elmont, N.Y. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

EAST MEADOW, N.Y. — The Islanders allowed three goals in just 3:58 midway through the third period, squandering a 2-0 lead during Monday night’s 4-3 overtime loss to the Detriot Red Wings. Allowing teams to put up multiple goals in quick succession is becoming an overarching theme of the young season for New York, who have experienced quick counterpunches without a reply in half of their eight games so far.

“There’s kind of a saying that the first shift after a goal is the most important one,” defenseman Ryan Pulock said. “Once you give one up, you have to rebound. We were in a good spot and then we kind of killed ourselves there.

On Oct. 20 against the New Jersey Devils, they allowed a pair of power-play goals in just 2:15 — another issue that continues to hamper the Islanders — in a 5-4 overtime. Their penalty kill is hovering near the league average after ranking in the top 10 each of the last three seasons.

Just one night later in Buffalo against the Sabres, they yielded three goals in 6:13 between the end of the second period and start of the third period in a 3-1 loss. Three nights after that at UBS Arena while carrying a 3-2 lead against the high-scoring Colorado Avalanche in the final minute of the second period, New York yielded two goals in just 13.2 seconds 

“You have to clean it up and be a little sharper,” Pulock added. “Don’t allow it to snowball like that.”

Islanders Red Wings
New York Islanders’ Ryan Pulock (6) and goaltender Ilya Sorokin (30) watch as Detroit Red Wings’ J.T. Compher (37) scores a goal during the third period of an NHL hockey game Monday, Oct. 30, 2023, in Elmont, N.Y. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

At least for now, though, the Islanders are looking at this as more of an anomaly than anything.

“Maybe it’s just a weird stretch. I don’t think it’s something that’s happening all the time,” winger Mathew Barzal said. “Maybe it’s happened a couple times recently but I don’t think that just because they score a goal we completely sink. That’s not the case. I feel like it’s just a lucky bounce here or there and they’ve been able to score.”

Questions will naturally arise about the pressure that has been put on goaltender Ilya Sorokin, who has faced at least 35 shots in each of his last four outings. The 159 shots faced during that span are the highest of his career — and the goals he’s allowed have either been heavily screened or he’s had no chance due to a defensive lapse, such as JT Compher’s go-ahead goal in the third period on Monday night when he was left all alone at the left post for an easy tap-in.

New York’s 18 high-danger shots allowed this season is tied for 13th-most in the league. 

“I don’t think [shots on goal] is a number that we panic about but you want to limit shots, you want to limit opportunities,” Pulock said. “I think sometimes scoring chances or high-danger chances is more of an indicator than actual shots because different teams throw pucks from everywhere. I think we just need to focus on limiting chances and if we’re giving up a shot from the outside, it’s an easy save for [Sorokin] and it’s not too taxing on him. Playing in our zone, though, we have to clean it up and just limit any sustained zone time.”

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