The last time Ilya Sorokin played a game while his father watched from the stands, he was 17 years old.
But during the Islanders’ 4-1 victory Saturday over the Red Wings, Igor Sorokin was in the stands for the first time in his son’s NHL career, having made the journey from Russia to see Ilya turn aside 22 of 23 shots in a routine win.
“He’s not watched live games,” Ilya Sorokin said. “He was very nervous.”
Sorokin is a native of Mezhdurechensk, Russia, a city of just over 100,000 in Southwestern Siberia, and his dad worked as a miner.
At 12, Sorokin moved away from home to pursue hockey, later playing professionally in Novokuznetsk, a city near Mezhdurechensk, but it was rare for his dad to come see him.
“After maybe he watched one or two times, one game I said, ‘What are you doing? Watch more games,’ ” Sorokin said jokingly.
Sorokin didn’t waste the opportunity in front of his dad, and neither did the Islanders, who played a strong game against the Red Wings, overcoming a 1-0 deficit to score four times in the final period and put away a game they’d controlled throughout.
Sorokin wasn’t asked to bail the Islanders out of trouble much, but his poke check on Lucas Raymond early in the game helped prevent Detroit from jumping out to a lead.
“Really good play,” Sorokin said of the game. “Really good start. Really good third period.”
Pierre Engvall skated 17:26 in his Islanders debut, putting two of five shot attempts on net while playing on the top line alongside Anders Lee and Bo Horvat.
“Obviously it’s a completely new line,” Engvall said. “I think we found each other pretty good out there. I try to win a lot of pucks, find the guys in the middle. I think we did a pretty good job.”
According to Natural Stat Trick, the Islanders’ top line outshot the Red Wings 10-3 with an 11-5 scoring chance margin.
“I liked him a lot,” coach Lane Lambert said of Engvall. “He obviously showed his speed. There’s little things in the game … that I liked that he did in terms of just his thought process in certain areas.”
Kyle Palmieri had his fourth multi-point game of the season and first since Jan. 27 — also against the Red Wings — with a goal and a secondary assist.