PITTSBURGH – The New York Islanders spent the better part of four periods hanging on thanks largely to the sheer brilliance of rookie goaltender Ilya Sorokin.
They needed just 51 seconds of the fifth to stun the Penguins, with a major assist from Pittsburgh netminder Tristan Jarry.
Jarry's ill-advised clearing attempt early in the second overtime went right to New York forward Josh Bailey, who raced in to score the winner and give the Islanders a 3-2 victory in Game 5 and a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series.
“At first, I was just trying to settle (the puck) down and wanted to get a good shot off,” Bailey said. “Ultimately, I ran out of time and tried to let one go and happy to see it go in.”
New York can close out the East Division champions on Wednesday night in Long Island, a prospect that seemed improbable for long stretches of a regulation the Penguins dominated.
Sorokin, the 25-year-old Russian, is now 3-0 in the series and hardly seems rattled by the stage. Steady throughout and spectacular when the moment required, Sorokin kept Pittsburgh at bay long enough for his teammates to find a way.
“It all goes on Ilya,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said. “We don’t have a chance if he doesn’t have an outstanding game in the first two periods, either.”
Sorokin stopped 48 shots, a franchise playoff record for a rookie goaltender, and appears to have New York's goalie situation settled for however long the Islanders last. He started Game 1 when veteran Semyon Varlamov was unavailable, then took a seat as Varlamov took the loss in Games 2 and 3. Trotz turned to Sorokin for Game 4 and he has responded by allowing just three goals over the last seven-plus periods.