Two nights. Two wins in Western New York. One first-career NHL shutout.
The New York Islanders skated to a 3-0 win on Tuesday, beating the Buffalo Sabres for the second time in as many days.
"It's really hard to win both games of a back-to-back," Head Coach Barry Trotz said. "You usually see teams split… A lot of the things that we're doing have allowed us to win consecutive games."
Anders Lee (2G) and JG Pageau scored for the Islanders, while Ilya Sorokin made 20 saves for his first NHL win and shutout, as the Islanders extended their point streak to eight games (5-0-3). With the win, the Islanders vaulted to second place in the East Division.
Here are five takeaways from a successful second night of a back-to-back and a memorable one for the Russian rookie.
The New York Islanders formula worked so well on Monday night, they ran it back on Tuesday.
Coming off a decisive 3-1 win over the Sabres the night before, the flow of Tuesday's first period was eerily similar to Monday's contest, even down to the goal scorers, as Lee and Pageau lit the lamp in succession for a second-straight game.
Lee opened the scoring, tallying his sixth goal of the season at 4:43. Pageau, who sniped over Linus Ullmark's shoulder on Monday, picked a corner on Carter Hutton at the 11:58 mark of Tuesday's contest.
That gave the Islanders a 2-0 lead and marked the 18th and 19th first-period goals of the season for the Isles who've used quick starts to their advantage. After weathering a Sabres' push at the end of the first period, they began to put the squeeze on Buffalo in the second.
"It's good preparation," Pageau said of the Isles strong starts. "Being ready to play your role as best as you can and that's why we come out strong."
One night after holding the Sabres without a shot in the third period on Monday - the first time in franchise history - the Islanders held Buffalo to three shots in the second period, including none in the last 13:14 of the middle frame.
Victor Olofsson appeared to put Buffalo on the board on a third period power play with seven minutes to play, but the Islanders successfully challenged and overturned the goal to preserve the clean sheet, as Jack Eichel had entered the zone offside.
Buffalo continued to push in the third, generating eight shots on goal, and 20 on the night as a whole, but Sorokin stood tall. The Islanders eventually ended the game with an empty-netter, as Lee scored with 0.3 seconds left on the clock.
"It was a nice compliment that the guys did it at the start and [Sorokin] did it at the end," Trotz said.
Ilya Sorokin picked up his first NHL win and shutout on Tuesday, stopping all 20 shots he faced on Tuesday.
"I feel good," Sorokin said after the win. "It's good for me that I got my first win."
Despite the low volume of shots, Sorokin earned the shutout and was sharp all night long, making key saves against the Sabres' big guns. One of Sorokin's best saves came on a Taylor Hall breakaway in the first period, calmly stopping the former MVP with his pad to preserve a 2-0 lead and the Islanders momentum.
The 25-year-old also flashed the glove on Sabres sniper Victor Olofsson - whose seven-game point streak was snapped - in the third period and stretched out for a handful of quality saves to preserve his shutout.
"He was outstanding," Barry Trotz said to start off his postgame availability. "The athleticism. He made some huge saves."
"I think it will [be a weight off his shoulders]," Trotz added. "As a goaltender, you want to get your first win and to get it with a shutout is huge, but we felt he played pretty well in Philadelphia and he was getting some momentum and street cred if you will. He followed it up today, which going forward will be huge."
It was a milestone win for the Russian goalie, who got his first 'W' and goose egg in his fourth start. Sorokin became the first Islanders goalie to record a shutout in his first win since Anders Nilsson on March 4, 2012. He joked that he'll remember the video review on the overturned goal.
Tuesday also marked the best game the Islanders had played in front of the rookie, after failing to score in each of his first two games. Sorokin was on the receiving end of some long hugs in the team's handshake line after the game and shared a nice moment with Semyon Varlamov, who congratulated him on the win and shutout.
"That's the great thing about our game, those moments," Trotz said. "Every one of our players lined up with Ilya and took a special moment for him, it wasn't like everyone went by, touched him on the head and went to the bench, everybody took a brief moment with him and that's what makes this game special and being part of a team special."
Anthony Beauvillier returned to the lineup after missing nine games with a lower-body injury. Beauvillier played alongside Pageau and Oliver Wahlstrom in his return, as opposed to flanking his usual linemate Brock Nelson.
Trotz said he could envision Beauvillier staying on that line, but also used the game to experiment with some new combos.
"I thought [Beauvillier] had lots of pop, his details were pretty good. He did fade a little bit in the third, you could tell he was going," Trotz said. "I liked Barzal, Beauvillier and Wahlstrom together. They got a couple of looks off of that. That was a little experiment and I also wanted to get Pageau an extra shift against Eichel."
Beauvillier skated 16:31 TOI and finished the game with one shot and one hit. He saw 1:24 shorthanded, but no time on the power play.
Pageau's stick is scoring hot, as the center scored his fifth goal in the past four games. Pageau put the Islanders up 2-0 in the first period, taking a stretch pass from Ryan Pulock at the Sabres line, skating in and picking a corner far side on Carter Hutton.
Per NHL PR, Pageau is the eighth player in Isles history to score in the first period in four-consecutive games and first since Matt Moulson (7G, 1A) in four straight games from Nov. 26 to Dec. 3, 2011.
With six goals, Pageau joins Mathew Barzal and Jordan Eberle for second on the team's goals leaderboard. Pageau also had a chance at a second, but was denied by Hutton on a shorthanded breakaway in the third period.
"I'm just trying to work as hard as I can to get my game better, to get a lot more skating in my game," Pageau said. "I'm trying to be a pain in the ass to play against. That's what I'm trying to do. I got fortunate, I got a lucky bounce and I got another breakaway. I missed the breakaway and whatever. Got to keep working and hopefully, I'll get one.
Anders Lee scored for the second-consecutive game on Tuesday night, opening the scoring for the Islanders at 4:43 of the first period. Lee's finished the play for his sixth goal of the season, but the highlight belonged to Noah Dobson. The rookie defenseman rushed the puck up the ice, deep into the Sabres' zone and threaded a cross-ice through two defensemen to find the Isles' captain for the backdoor play.
Dobson's assist was his first point in five games. With an empty-netter, Lee potted his team-leading seventh goal of the season.
The Islanders road trip continues with a two-game set vs the Pittsburgh Penguins, beginning on Thursday night in Steeltown.