Semyon Varlamov is certainly used to long breaks between games this season.
The goalie was the Islanders’ best player in a 2-0 loss to the Capitals on Saturday afternoon at UBS Arena, stopping 34 of the 35 shots he faced in his first outing in 16 days.
"I felt good today," said Varlamov, who last made 36 saves in a 4-1 win over the visiting Sabres on Dec. 30 and is now 2-6-1 with a 2.59 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage in 10 appearances. "I gave up a goal in the first period and then, after that, I made some saves and got the confidence back."
Varlamov missed all of training camp and the preseason because of a lingering knee issue from last season and didn’t make his first start until the Islanders’ 10th game on Nov. 7.
Because of the spate of postponed games — the Islanders still have nine games to be rescheduled and played for just the fourth time since Dec. 19 — Saturday was just Varlamov’s third game since Dec. 16.
Varlamov was sharp from the onset despite Tom Wilson’s wide-open goal in the first period.
"It’s a great sign," associate coach Lane Lambert said. "I thought he played a fantastic game and he gave us a chance to come back."
Suspension: No reaction
Saturday marked the first game of Ross Johnston’s three-game suspension for his illegal check to the head of A.J. Greer in the first period of Thursday night’s 3-2 win over the Devils at UBS Arena.
It marked the first suspension for an Islanders’ player since Matt Martin got one game for kneeing the Stars’ Trevor Daley in March, 2015 and the first multi-game suspension since Michael Grabner received two games for an illegal check to the head of the Hurricanes’ Nathan Gerbe in October, 2013.
But Lambert offered no reaction to the length of the suspension.
"It wasn’t even talked about today," Lambert said. "We had a game to prepare for."
Mathew Barzal had his streak of notching at least one point in his last nine games (three goals, 11 assists) snapped…The Capitals, coming off Monday’s 7-3 loss to the visiting Bruins, have gone 54 games without losing twice in a row in regulation…The Capitals played with 11 forwards after T.J. Oshie exited at 4:16 of the first period with an upper-body injury. The Capitals were also without forward Conor Sheary, who was placed in COVID-19 protocol…Alex Ovechkin scored an empty-net goal but otherwise was kept off the scoresheet despite four shots on net. "We all know what he does," defenseman Scott Mayfield said. "It’s a tough one when you can hold them off but we still don’t pull it together."