The Islanders were a little lucky and eventually good, Semyon Varlamov was really good and eventually a little lucky, as the Isles visited Washington and came away with a 3-0 win.
It was Varlamov’s second shutout in a row — great stuff from your backup goalie — and he was particularly good early on when the game was still in doubt. The Islanders only had two shots in the first period, but both of them beat Darcy Kuemper, including Ryan Pulock’s heavily screened shot from distance in the opening minute.
By the time the Islanders made it 3-0 halfway through the second period on yet another nifty goalscorer’s instinctual tally by Brock Nelson, you had the feeling it was either going to be one of those semi-deserved nights made possible by a great goaltending performance, or a night where they wasted all of that by failing to find their game.
Fortunately it was the former, and the Isles steadied their game as the Capitals steadily came to accept their fate.
However, the win may have come with a heavy cost: Though Scott Mayfield returned to the lineup from injury, he was much needed because Adam Pelech left with an injury in the first period, appearing to grab his hip or lower back after a collision.
This and That
- The first goal was great work by Kyle Palmieri. He fought for a rebound down low, was taken down, swept the puck from his belly to Brock Nelson, then got up and created a moving screen with himself and his marker to help Pulock’s shot find its way through traffic.
- Simon Holmstrom scored! And his second goal of the season started with a great defensive effort and single-handed breakout, then a sweet exchange with Hudson Fasching, who could use that confidence boost with his return to the lineup.
- There were several moments in the first and second where the Capitals very easily could have scored, but for Varlamov, or a missed shot, or a little of both. Varlamov’s positioning was excellent and mobile, forcing a lot of scary chances to the side or wide.
- The shutout looked like it was broken halfway through the third, but the Isles made a bold coach’s challenge for goalie interference. The video review call to reverse it was absolutely correct, but it wasn’t so obvious that you’d say it was definitely worth risking a penalty and a chance for the Caps to make it 3-2. Instead, they didn’t even make it 3-1; TJ Oshie’s extended presence in the crease kept Varlamov from being able to play the shot.
The Islanders are back home on Saturday to host the Carolina Hurricanes (6-5-0). Hmm...we’ve seen them before.
Curiously, with tonight’s result the Islanders (5-2-2) are ahead of them in the standings — tied with 12 points each, but with two games in hand.