Any lingering concern should be alleviated regarding goalie Semyon Varlamov’s availability for Sunday afternoon’s opener of the Islanders’ first-round playoff series in Pittsburgh.
The presumed Game 1 starter was a full participant in the Islanders’ final pre-playoff practice on Saturday morning at Northwell Health Ice Center in East Meadow.
Varlamov exited Monday’s season-finale in Boston after two periods with an unspecified strain and did not practice on either Wednesday or Thursday.
Coach Barry Trotz said Varlamov also skated for 35-40 minutes on Friday with the Islanders’ taxi squad and minor-league Black Aces.
Trotz acknowledged it was important for Varlamov to practice on Saturday.
"He skated with the group," Trotz said. "We’ll see where he is [Sunday]. He feels pretty good but we’ll make all the right decisions."
Varlamov was 11-7-0 with a 2.14 goals-against average and a .921 save percentage in last season’s playoffs.
The visual evidence continues to mount among the Islanders that president and general manager Lou Lamoriello’s longstanding regular-season dictum against facial hair has once again been lifted for the playoffs.
Kyle Palmieri, Jordan Eberle and Cal Clutterbuck seem in a three-way tie for whose beard is coming in fastest.
"As soon as I put the razor away, it gets me excited," Eberle said. "I love growing a beard. Having to shave all year, for me, I pretty much have to shave every day. It’s a little bit of a break in the morning. But not only that, you feel more grizzled and a little bit more like a playoff hockey player."
Penguins goalie Casey DeSmith (undisclosed) did not participate in Saturday’s practice and coach Mike Sullivan listed him as day-to-day. Maxime Lagace will back up Tristan Jarry if DeSmith is unavailable for Game 1. Sullivan also listed Evgeni Malkin among the Penguins’ game-time decisions.
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