Penguins notes: Isles' Semyon Varlamov does not play, Pens' Evan Rodriguez does
May 16—To open their postseason, the Pittsburgh Penguins could not take advantage of facing a rookie goalie making his NHL playoff debut in net. Ilya Sorokin, a 2014 third-round pick, started for the New York Islanders because Semyon Varlamov was unavailable because of an undisclosed injury.
Sorokin might have just 22 games of NHL regular-season experience, but he's a veteran of seven-plus seasons in the Kontinental Hockey League in his native Russia. He's won 134 games in the KHL.
Sorokin went 13-6-3 with a 2.17 goals-against average and .918 save percentage in his first NHL season, including a shutout of the Penguins on Feb. 28. Sorokin, though, allowed four goals on nine shots over 26 minutes of his other — more recent — game against the Penguins on March 27.
After Sunday's game, New York's J.P. Pageau called Sorokin "a huge part of that win."
"He was super calm, even before the game," Pageau said. "He's a goalie — he's a person — that has a lot of confidence and is super calm. You see him in practice, he's a competitive guy."
Varlamov missed the third period of New York's regular-season finale last week, and his status has been in question since.
Veteran Cory Schneider dressed as Sorokin's backup Sunday.
Islanders coach Barry Trotz said Varlamov skated Friday and Saturday and will practice Monday, but the decision to sit him was made Saturday night.
"We just thought, long-term, that's one thing that we think we have is two capable goalies" Trotz said. "If we want to have any success, we're going to need both of them. So we said, 'You know what? Let's sort of do what's right. Let's not risk anything here. Let's be cautious. We'll give him another day of practice. And then he'll be 100 percent.' "
3 Penguins return
In addition to the return to full health and game action of starting goalie Tristan Jarry, the Penguins welcomed back three others who had missed time of varying length because of injury: defenseman Mike Matheson and forwards Brandon Tanev and Evan Rodrigues.
Rodrigues (lower-body) and Matheson (upper-body) missed the final five and four games, respectively, of the regular season. Tanev (upper-body) had not played since April 3.
Wearing a plexiglass face shield, Matheson was paired with usual partner Cody Ceci and was fifth on the Penguins in ice time (25 minutes, 59 seconds). He was a plus-1 with an assist, two hits and a shot on goal. Matheson was on the ice for the both goals, one by each team, scored 31 seconds apart late in the third period.
Tanev played 16 minutes, 27 seconds and had a team-high nine hits. His four shots on goal were tied for second among Penguins behind Sidney Crosby's five.
Rodrigues played a team-low 12 minutes, 17 seconds. He assisted Frederick Gaudreau's first-period goal.
Keep up with the Pittsburgh Penguins all season long.
Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .