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Islanders expect Semyon Varlamov to skate Friday

New York Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov against the

New York Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov against the Washington Capitals at Nassau Coliseum on April 22, 2021. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Goalie Semyon Varlamov remained absent from practice for a second straight day, but Islanders coach Barry Trotz expects that streak to be broken on Friday.

"He will skate tomorrow," Trotz said after Thursday’s session at Northwell Health Ice Center in East Meadow.

The Islanders open their first-round playoff series against the Penguins on Sunday afternoon in Pittsburgh. Varlamov, the presumed Game 1 starter if healthy, continues to deal with an unspecified strain that knocked him out of Monday’s season finale in Boston after two periods.

Varlamov, who went 11-7-0 with a 2.14 goals-against average and a .921 save percentage in the playoffs last season, should play Sunday if he returns to the ice on Friday. If he does skate it would be on his own, because the Islanders are not practicing on Friday.

If not, Ilya Sorokin, who was 13-6-3 with a 2.17 GAA and .918 save percentage is on call.

"They’ve been spectacular all year," defenseman Ryan Pulock said. "It doesn’t matter what guy is in the net. They give us a chance to win. We have a lot of confidence in them and it’s translated into our play."

Early start

The NHL finally announced its Stanley Cup playoffs schedule on Thursday and the Islanders-Penguins series includes two afternoon games. Faceoff for Sunday’s Game 1 in Pittsburgh will be noon and Game 4 at Nassau Coliseum on May 22 will start at 3 p.m.

Pulock said having such an early start for Game 1 could be beneficial.

"It happens quick that day," Pulock said. "I think it can be good. That first game of the playoffs, you know you’re excited about it. You can’t wait for it. So, when you wake up in the morning, you know you don’t have to wait all day. You can get ready for work."

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