Semyon Varlamov’s huge stop saved Islanders

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Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov was the only thing standing in the way of Jakub Vrana lifting the Washington Capitals to their first win in their first-round series Sunday afternoon.

As a 1-1 game went into overtime, Vrana jumped out on a breakaway after knocking down Andy Greene’s shot. The Capitals left winger unloaded a hard shot that Varlamov stopped with his pads before following up on the rebound, which Varlamov also turned aside.

On the subsequent play, Mathew Barzal buried the game-winner to give the Islanders a 2-1 victory and a 3-0 series lead.

“Every player plays a breakaway differently,” Varlamov said on a Zoom call following the win. “Some players prefer to shoot, some players prefer to make a move, as a goalie you just have to stay patient and see what the player is going to do.

“That’s what I try to do, stay patient and see what the player is going to do.”

The 32-year-old Varlamov has started every Islanders game this postseason, accumulating a 6-1 record and a .932 save percentage. He saved 22 of the 23 shots he faced Sunday, but said he felt as though it was a less active game for him.

Facing just 117 total shots during the playoffs, Varlamov has liked what he’s seen from the defense in front of him.

Semyon Varlamov makes a save in overtime of Game 3 vs. the Capitals.Getty Images

“Sometimes it’s very difficult to stay focused because you don’t face as many shots,” he said. “When you start a game you want to make a couple good saves, you always feel good after that. Sometimes you have to wait 10 minutes to make a save, but it’s OK, I know we’re playing very good defensively. I prefer to see that from the guys.”

Head coach Barry Trotz had played both Varlmaov and current backup Thomas Greiss relatively evenly during the 2019-20 regular season, but after training camp 2.0, Varlamov earned the starting nod.

“Your goalie is your eraser,” Trotz said. “Sometimes as a coach or a team, your goaltender can erase all your mistakes. We made a couple mistakes there and Varly erased it. Getting it for him is a good process, where you want to reward your goalie for bailing you out and you can bail him out with a win when you get that opportunity.”


The Islanders went 0-for-5 on the power play as they continue to struggle with the man-advantage in the 2020 playoffs.

Nick Leddy’s power-play goal in Game 2 has been the Islanders’ lone power-play tally since the start of the first-round series with the Capitals, in which they’ve gone 1-for-14 with the man-advantage.

“They have a really good penalty kill,” Trotz said. “We had some looks and had some opportunities and didn’t bury them. It’s a little bit of both [our play and the Capitals’ play]. One thing that you find in a playoff series is you’re studying that team, they’ve had an opportunity to study our power play for some time and now you’re in a series where you’re seeing the same people, same tendencies, coaching staffs are seeing the same things.”

“There’s little adjustments we’ve been making and they’ve been making adjustments as well. A couple times we had some great looks, we just didn’t execute them quick enough because they were being aggressive on us.”

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