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The Islanders’ White Whale splashed into the NHL Saturday night.
After Semyon Varlamov took a puck to throat during warmups, Ilya Sorokin made his NHL debut in the Islanders’ 5-0 loss at Madison Square Garden 2,934 days after the organization drafted him 78th overall in 2014.
Head coach Barry Trotz didn’t have an immediate update on Varlamov, who posted a shutout against the Rangers in Thursday’s season-opener. Cory Schneider served as the backup just a day after officially signing his one-year deal with the Islanders.
While the Islanders have been patiently waiting for the 25-year-old Sorokin to be NHL ready, Trotz made it clear that Sorokin’s debut wasn’t under the circumstances they had hoped for.
“We hung him out to dry,” Trotz said on a Zoom call after the loss.
Trotz also noted that it was “not acceptable” that Varlamov was hurt during warmups, adding that it was unfair to Sorokin.
In the first period, the 25-year-old Sorokin allowed two goals to fellow countryman Pavel Buchnevich and Artemi Panarin on the first 10 shots he faced. He finished the night with 27 saves on 32 shots.
“I know [him] quite a bit,” Alexandar Georgiev said of Sorokin this past week. “We work together at the National Team A couple of years ago. Awesome goal a great guy. I have good things about him to say, obviously. I think he’s a great goalie.”
Tony DeAngelo was a healthy scratch for the Rangers in Saturday’s rematch against the Islanders.
The Rangers defenseman skated with the taxi squad Friday after getting called for an unsportsmanlike conduct a minute and five seconds into the third period of Thursday’s 4-0 loss to the Isles. DeAngelo, who has been a healthy scratch before under David Quinn for what the Rangers head coach described as “maturity issues,” slammed the penalty box door and opened his mouth to the refs after committing a holding penalty.
“Listen, there’s just a lot of things that go on that we’re going to keep in-house, and this is one of them,” Quinn said prior to Saturday’s contest at Madison Square Garden. “Tony and I have talked about it. There’s clarity on what happened here. It was the right thing to do and he’ll be back in the lineup soon.”
Asked if he would scratch any other player in the lineup if they conducted himself the way DeAngelo did Thursday, Quinn said he would and that it didn’t have anything to do with the fact that it was a repeat offender in DeAngelo.
“This would’ve happened with any player, it has nothing to do with Tony,” he said.
After slow starts in their first NHL game Thursday, rookies K’Andre Miller and Alexis Lafreniere seemed to settle into the pace of the pro level in Saturday’s shutout win.
“They both played a much better hockey game, they played with swagger, I mean they weren’t intimidated,” Rangers coach David Quinn said. “This is a hard team to play, we played them. It’s a man’s game every time you play the Islanders and for those two guys to step forward and not be intimidated and play with the passion and the swagger that they played with that’s a great sign for us.”
Buchnevich tied his single-game career-highs with two goals and three points in the win. He also led all skaters with five shots on goal, and posted a plus-two rating.