Goalies dominate NHL three stars from Monday
1. Ilya Sorokin, New York Islanders
Facing the Islanders must feel hopeless enough when their goalies are merely operating as normal. The Islanders with keyed-in goalies? Lookout, even if those victories might not always be the prettiest.
Early on this season, it was mainly Semyon Varlamov who was driving the Islanders’ bus. Now Ilya Sorokin is red-hot, and more or less matching Varlamov. Again: scary for people hoping to score against the Islanders.
In Monday’s case, the Flyers were the unlucky souls. After getting blown out quite a bit lately — including against the Islanders — the Flyers suffered from a different type of loss. Maybe one more familiar for opponents of the Barry Trotz Islanders before this season.
Sorokin made 36 saves against the Flyers, leading the Islanders to a stifling 2-1 OT win. Sorokin improved his current winning streak to eight consecutive games, with his past two coming against these flailing Flyers.
2. Filip Gustavsson, Ottawa Senators
As a team grasping for playoff relevance, the Flyers had to be feeling desperate trying to score against Ilya Sorokin — but at least they were facing a foreboding Islanders opponent. For the Flames, it’s a lot more frustrating — especially against Filip Gustavsson, a goalie who was searching for his first NHL win.
Then again, like Sorokin, Gustavsson’s a young goalie with some considerable pedigree. Numb fingers and all, Gustavsson was a second-rounder (55th by Pittsburgh in 2016), and the 22-year-old showed some of that promise on Monday.
Gustavsson finished with 35 saves on Monday, one behind Sorokin, frustrating the Flames in the process.
In this case, Calgary couldn’t even record a “charity point.”
On one hand, it feels a bit like living by the sword, and dying by the sword. (In this case, the sword is Darryl Sutter’s consciously boring style.)
On the other hand … it’s not like the Flames fired zero shots on Gustavsson. If the Flames fall short of the playoffs, they’ll look back at nights like these, and performances like Gustavsson’s gem.
3. Martin Jones, San Jose Sharks
“Best game of Martin Jones’ season” feels like damning with faint praise. At least, it does for Martin Jones in the year 2021.
But Jones really was brilliant for the Sharks against the Kings on Monday.
Considering that Jones made 41 out of 42 saves, you could soundly argue that he deserved the top star spot for Monday in the NHL. Scale comes into play a bit here, though. While the Kings are trying to hang in there, their playoff hopes don’t look so hot. And their offensive arsenal is improving, but still maybe a touch overrated.
This does kind of work into a larger pattern for goalies in the NHL on Monday, though. A hot goalie performance foiled a playoff hopeful’s push to stay in the mix.
Honorable mentions, aka skaters who played well in the NHL on Monday
- In continuing the Sabres’ dismal 14-game losing streak, Adam Fox collected a goal and two assists. His Rangers teammate Artemi Panarin was right there with him, generating three assists.
- Along with Panarin and Fox, Mark Stone boasted an argument to be one of the NHL three stars on Monday. He scored three points too, getting there with two goals and one assist.
- Uh oh, there are goalies here, as well. Connor Hellebuyck netted a shutout, but on 22 saves, while Alex Nedeljkovic needed only 19 for his.
Stats of the night: Sabres losing streak extends to 14 games
Truly, it’s probably worth your time to read up on the Buffalo Sabres’ losing streak extending to 14 games. Click here for the lowdown on that. Here’s a silly one as a bonus, via Sportsnet stats:
All of Jeff Skinner's 3 goals this season have been scored in the New York metropolitan area#LetsGoBuffalo
— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) March 23, 2021
Actually, cool stuff on Paul Stastny matching his father Peter Stastny with 977 games played. While Paul didn’t rob Peter of most points, he did win vs. the Canucks. Also via Sportsnet stats:
Peter Stastny: Did not score in his 977th & final NHL game, which was vs the Canucks#GoJetsGo Paul Stastny: Scores in his 977th (& not final) NHL game, also vs the Canucks
— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) March 23, 2021
Highlights from the NHL on Monday
As he showed on Monday, Jeff Skinner is like most NHL snipers: they can be hot and cold. Sometimes goalies steal goals from them, as Keith Kinkaid did. The key is to … you know, give them chances to score later. (Skinner did.)
Lowlight: Game puck silliness from Flames
The Calgary Flames: having a normal one.
Nice overtime game-winning goal from Anthony Beauvillier for the Islanders:
Anthony Beauvillier (@titobeauvi21) wraps that game up in OT!
NHL x @trulyseltzer pic.twitter.com/jci42cUXes
— NHL (@NHL) March 23, 2021
Monday’s NHL scores
Rangers 5, Sabres 3
Wild 2, Ducks 1
Hurricanes 3, Blue Jackets 0
Senators 2, Flames 1
Islanders 2, Flyers 1 (OT)
Avalanche 5, Coyotes 1
Jets 4, Canucks 0
Golden Knights 5, Blues 1
Sharks 2, Kings 1
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.