The Upshot: Barzal goal, Varlamov big saves lift Islanders to 2-1 win over Vegas in OT
HOW IT HAPPENED
Behind 44 saves from Semyon Varlamov, the Islanders defeated the Vegas Golden Knights 2-1 in overtime at UBS Arena on Saturday night and head into the break with two straight wins. In the OT, Varlamov stopped William Carrier on a penalty shot 26 seconds into the extra session following an Adam Pelech penalty.
With 32 seconds left in OT, Mathew Barzal beat Logan Thompson from above the right circle with a wrist shot for the win. Anders Lee also had a goal for the Islanders (25-22-5). Carrier had the Vegas goal, and Thompson made 35 saves for the Golden Knights (29-18-4) in the loss.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Semyon Varlamov was simply fantastic. There might have been some temptation for Lane Lambert to go back to Ilya Sorokin after Friday night's 23-game shutout, but he went back to Varlamov for the second time in three games, and he was on top of his game throughout.
Stopping the penalty shot in OT was the second-best save he made. In the second, he robbed Reilly Smith of a sure goal in what will be a save-of-the-year candidate. “I got lucky, said Varlamov after the game. "The whole net was open. And it happens like once a year. Shoot there 100 times, you probably score 99 of the 100. I’m glad I made that save. I mean it was unbelievable, you know.”
WHAT WENT WRONG
The two wins must feel great for this group after the six-game winless streak, but if they were looking turn the corner offensively or get the power-play fixed, neither of those things happened. Kyle Palmieri assisted on Lee's goal and has been one of their best forwards since coming back from Injured Reserve (IR), but the other new combinations still haven't been able to finish.
Also, the third period and OT were rather one-sided, with Vegas owning the shots advantage 21 to 6 to end the game. The Islanders had the shot advantage through the first two periods, but for the game, Vegas had 45 shots to the Islanders' 37.
STATS OF THE GAME
Per Eric Hornick in The Skinny, The Isles swept a back-to-back set in which they scored two goals or fewer in each game for the first time since December 30-31, 2002, vs. Florida and in Buffalo. Roman Hamrlik and Jason Blake had overtime goals as Chris Osgood earned a pair of 2-1 wins.
On this night, it was Barzal scoring his first goal in 11 games.
SOCIAL MEDIA MOMENT OF THE GAME
Mascots Sparky the Dragon and Nyisles have always been related through the Islanders family, so it was fitting that on 2000's night, they paid homage to the 2008 Will Ferrell movie "Step Brothers" with their sweater vests.
There's not another game until Monday, February 6th, when the Islanders visit the Philadelphia Flyers. Of course, Brock Nelson and Ilya Sorokin will represent the Islanders and the Metropolitan Division on Sunday, Feb. 4, in Sunrise, FL.