Islanders goalie change backfires as Hurricanes go up 3-0

Sebastian Aho restores 2-goal lead for Hurricanes (0:25)

Sebastian Aho scores to restore the Hurricanes' two-goal lead vs. the Islanders. (0:25)

ELMONT, N.Y. -- The New York Islanders' Ilya Sorokin got the start in Game 3 as a rested goalie seeking to give his team a fresh start after trailing the Carolina Hurricanes 2-0 in their opening-round series.

But things turned rotten quickly for Sorokin. He gave up three goals on 14 shots before he was pulled 7:14 into the second period. Semyon Varlamov, who started the first two games of the series, stopped all eight shots he faced in relief, but it wasn't enough: The Hurricanes defeated the Islanders 3-2 on Thursday, and New York now faces elimination Saturday afternoon at UBS Arena.

Coach Patrick Roy, who made the decision to start Sorokin, refused to directly address his goalie's performance in Game 3.

"I'm going to say this: We win and we lose as a team. So I'm not going to go there. But what I'm going to say is sometimes we make changes as a coach because we feel we just want to change the momentum in the game. I'll leave it at that," said Roy, who had a Hall of Fame career as an NHL goaltender.

When asked how getting pulled could impact Sorokin's confidence, Roy deflected again.

"Right now I'm focusing more on the team than focusing on our goalie," he said.

Varlamov started the Islanders' first two playoff games in Raleigh, posting a .905 save percentage and a 3.03 goals-against average. He gave up six goals on 63 shots. That included two goals in the span of nine seconds in Game 2, as the Hurricanes tied it and took the lead in shocking fashion during the third period.

Roy justified making the goalie change Thursday because Varlamov had faced 39 shots in Game 2 and the Islanders intended to use both goalies in the postseason.

Varlamov said he respected Roy's decision to bench him for Game 3, even after he was called back into action following Sorokin's removal.

"I trust Patrick on the decisions he makes," Varlamov said. "He's a head coach. We have to respect any decisions they make as a coaching staff."

Sorokin, 28, got the majority of starts this season, appearing in 56 games to Varlamov's 28. But Varlamov, 35, won seven of his last eight starts to lead the Islanders to a playoff berth in April, and earned the crease to begin the playoffs.

Carolina scored against Sorokin just 4:46 into Game 3 as a Brent Burns shot deflected off an Islanders defender's stick. Defenseman Dmitry Orlov made it 2-0 at 10:25 on a shot that Sorokin couldn't get over to fast enough to stop.

After Peter Engvall cut the lead to 2-1 at 2:48 of the second period, Carolina's Sebastian Aho beat Sorokin on another stoppable shot to make it 3-1 at 7:14 of the second period. Roy signaled to Varlamov that he was replacing Sorokin.

After being pulled, Sorokin stood in the hallway to the dressing room, hunched over with his mask still on, looking devastated.

"It's the game. Anything could happen. It's not the first time," Varlamov said of his friend and teammate. "I mean, what are you going to do? You have to move on and then forget about it and then just get ready for the next game."

After finishing second in the Vezina Trophy voting for the NHL's best goaltender last season, Sorokin posted his worst save percentage (.908) and goals-against average (3.01) of his four-season career. He begins an eight year, $66 million contract extension next season for the Islanders, who did not make him available for postgame comments.

Before Game 3, Roy recalled how his goaltending coach with the Montreal Canadiens described him and backup goalie Brian Hayward as different kinds of automobiles.

"Hayward was a Cadillac. He was comfortable. I was the Ferrari. I could be a little more bumpy," said Roy, who then applied the analogy to the Islanders. "We had the Cadillac in the first two games, and now we're going with the Ferrari."

Unfortunately for the Islanders, they experienced engine failure in Game 3 and the Hurricanes took control of the series.