Oliver Wahlstrom of the Islanders takes the ice to warm up...

Oliver Wahlstrom of the Islanders takes the ice to warm up before a game against the Sabres at Nassau Coliseum on March 6. Credit: Jim McIsaac

The plan all along was to start rookie goalie Ilya Sorokin in the Islanders’ 1-0 loss in Washington on Tuesday night.

Coach Barry Trotz insisted that would have been the case even if Semyon Varlamov, who turned 33 on Tuesday and had started the first six games against the Capitals this season, had been available.

But Varlamov did not dress for the game and Trotz reported he is dealing with soreness.

"We just kept him out," Trotz said. "But I don’t see that being a problem going forward at all."

Wahlstrom not quiet

Rookie right wing Oliver Wahlstrom logged 14:26 with one shot after being a healthy scratch the previous three games. Trotz had described a complacency in Wahlstrom’s practice habits — he is without a point in 10 straight games — and called Wahlstrom’s play nondescript.

That wasn’t the case on Tuesday.

"He was OK," Trotz said. "I noticed him, which is a really good sign."

Chara's of fighting age

Capitals defenseman Zdeno Chara, at 44 years, 40 days, became the oldest player in NHL history to earn a fighting major as he took on Matt Martin at 4:20 of the second period. Martin had checked Michael Raffl hard into the end boards.

"In Z’s case, he doesn’t have the luxury of replay," Martin said. "I would react similarly. I would assume you’re guilty first."

D.C. fans back

Tuesday marked the first time fans were allowed in Capital One Arena for a Capitals’ game since March 4, 2020. Capacity was limited to 10%, or 2,133 fans.

It also marked the third time this season the Islanders have been the visiting team with fans returning. They beat the Devils, 2-1, before a crowd of 1,800 at Prudential Center on March 2 and topped the Bruins, 4-3, in overtime on March 25 before a crowd of 2,191 at TD Garden.

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