The Upshot: Semyon Varlamov blanks the Caps, but it may have come at a cost

New York Islanders v Washington Capitals
New York Islanders v Washington Capitals / Patrick Smith/GettyImages

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The NY Islanders jumped out to a 1-0 lead on a Ryan Pulock goal just 22 seconds into their match-up with the Washington Capitals. Just past the midway mark of the first period, the Isles doubled their lead after Simon Holmstrom knocked home his second of the season off a Hudson Fasching pass, scoring on their only two shots of the period. Brocktober has extended into November, as Brock Nelson scored his fifth of the season in the Isles' 3-0 victory, extending their point streak to four games with their third shutout of the season.


Semyon Varlamov has been sensational in all three starts this season, picking up consecutive shutouts. He turned away all 32 shots from the Capitals and had the benefit of an overturned goal after it was deemed TJ Oshie interfered with Varlamov on what was called a goal on the ice. Scott Mayfield returned to the lineup, dressing for his first game after going down to a lower-body injury following the Isles' season opener against the Buffalo Sabres. Recording 21:21 in his first game back, Mayfield didn't show signs of rust, yet was probably used more than Lane Lambert would have hoped due to unforeseen circumstances.


After the news that Mayfield was returning to the lineup, the Isles had their full complement of defensemen for only about eight minutes. After an awkward collision with Aliaksei Protas, Adam Pelech hit the ice, grabbing at his left hip. Skating off the ice in noticeable discomfort, Pelech didn't return for the remainder of the night. After the game, Lambert had no update on Pelech.


Varlamov's second shutout of the season was the 40th of his career and 15th with the Islanders, moving him into sole possession of fifth place on the Islanders' all-time list ahead of Tommy Salo and one behind Rick DiPietro. Varly hasn't allowed a goal since the 02:40 mark of the third period against the Sabres, making him perfect in his last 137:20. He's saved 105 of 108 shots this season and ties Jonas Johansson and Tristan Jarry for the league lead in shutouts. His play of late makes it easy for Lambert to alternate between starting netminders.

"You know, I just try to play a simple game and just go out there working hard, just trying to do my thing," Varlamov said. "Honestly, I don't try and do anything special - just stick with the gameplan, and that's it."


Much has been made about the post-victory hugs between Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman following wins by the Boston Bruins - but in their three combined shutouts, Varlamov and Ilya Sorokin have been each other's biggest fans. Celebrating with one another, Sorokin shows his admiration for his teammate and mentor as the two continue to be one of the league's top duos.


The Islanders return home to UBS Arena on Saturday night, where they'll host the Carolina Hurricanes for the first time since the 'Canes eliminated the Isles in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 EDT.