NY Islanders G Semyon Varlamov celebrated Game 4 in style with rare birthday win

Carolina Hurricanes v New York Islanders - Game Four
Carolina Hurricanes v New York Islanders - Game Four / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

Semyon Varlamov had a memorable birthday on Saturday afternoon.

The veteran goaltender turned 36 and celebrated by making 42 saves in the 3-2 2OT win. He was solid all game, as he's been this series, but needed to be at his best during the first overtime when Carolina outshot the Islanders 17-9. According to statistician Eric Hornick in The Skinny, Varly is the first Islander goalie to play (and win) a playoff game on his birthday. Playing and winning on your birthday is a rarity for Islanders goaltenders. In fact,  Al Montoya (2011) is the only one to play (and win) a regular season game in the last 25 years.

It was Varlamov’s third overtime win to stave off elimination, breaking Chico Resch's club record (2). It is the third time the Isles have won a multiple-overtime game to stave off elimination (Pat LaFontaine: 1987 Game 7 vs Washington; Jordan Eberle: 2020 Game 5 in Edmonton Bubble vs. Tampa Bay).

“He's just a savvy veteran that's played a lot of games in this league, playoff games,” Noah Dobson said after the win. “You just see the calm demeanor he has, doesn't matter about the situation he's the same Varly, so it gives us a lot of composure and calmness back there.”

Apr 27, 2024; Elmont, New York, USA; New York Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov (40) makes a save
Apr 27, 2024; Elmont, New York, USA; New York Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov (40) makes a save / Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Those are the kinds of calming characteristics that come with experience, and Varlamov has gotten better than age this season. After backing up Sorokin throughout the season, he carried the Islanders during their playoff push and kept them in every game he's started this series.

Including the eight shots he stopped after relieving Ilya Sorokin in Game 3, he's now stopped 50 of 52 shots heading into Game 5 on Tuesday. If the Islanders are able to prolong their season and avoid elimination for a second straight game, Varly will be a big reason why. The Islanders always knew they had another No. 1 caliber goaltender in Varlamov, and even though the circumstances leading to his ascension this season were unexpected, he was ready as expected.

“Even when I was playing, I always thought the No. 1 guy was the guy that was playing the game,” head coach Patrick Roy said on Sunday. “The No. 2 was sitting on the bench. So to me, it’s a unique position. There’s only one guy that could play, and you’re very lucky when you have two very good goaltenders, and that’s how fortunate we are.”