In the New York Islanders’ 3-0 win over the Chicago Blackhawks, netminder Semyon Varlamov turned aside all 21 shots for his first shutout of the season, his 37th of his career.
Don’t be fooled by the number of shots, as Semyon Varlamov was tremendous early in the contest. While the Islanders were still getting their legs under them, Varlamov had to be extremely good to keep the game scoreless.
Here was his first save of the game on Blackhawks forward Phillipp Kurashev:
Varly shuts the door one-on-one pic.twitter.com/dqbjNRer9C
— Isles on MSGSN (@IslesMSGN) December 5, 2022
On the night, Varlamov faced seven high-danger chances, denying all of them. The Blackhawks had a 2.22 Expected Goals For. Here’s where the shots came from (Per Money Puck)
“I thought he was solid, steady, calm, you know, just in position all night long,” New York Islanders head coach Lane Lambert said. “And he made some big saves when we needed him to, so full marks for him.”
On the season, Varlamov is now 6-3-0, with a 2.52 GAA, with a .922 SV%, and one shutout.
Following the win, Varlamov spoke to the media about his performance Sunday night, how he’s felt he’s played this season and how important is counterpart Ilya Sorokin is.
“When I make that first save, it gives me a lot of confidence, especially when given up the chance from the slot, and then you’re able to make the save on the first shot, it always gives you a good feeling, gives your confidence,” Varlamov said.
As for what the shutout meant to him: “It doesn’t matter if it’s the first one or number 10. It always feels great for the goalie to get a shutout. I’m very happy now. I’m feeling it. It feels amazing every time you get a shutout, even every time you get a win. I mean, I feel great. So it gives you confidence, and you feel amazing.”
After a dominant 2020-21 season, Varlamov never found his game last season as he dealt with an injury all summer long, as he missed training camp, preseason, and a good portion of the first half of the season.
Turning things around this season and finding his game again was critical for him and the organization, which decided to hold onto his $5 million contract despite having a clear-cut no. one netmidner in Sorokin.
The move has paid off.
“I mean, I feel pretty good. Personally, for me, it was important to get back this season and just feel good physically,” Varlamov said. “So I work hard the entire summer to get back on track, and then I feel good like from the start of the season. And I didn’t have any issues with my health, which is great.”
With the way Varlamov has played, it has given the Islanders one of, if not the best, goaltending tandem in the NHL.
After the conclusion of last season, Varlamov was adamant about staying with New York, not concerned at all with how many games he would be playing with Sorokin proving to be one of the elite netminders in the NHL.
So far this season, Lambert has played Sorokin 18 times and Varlamov nine times.
Here’s what Varlamov had to say about Sorokin’s (10-7-0, 2.17 GAA, .932 SV%) game this season:
“[He’s been] outstanding this year. And I feel like every time he steps on the ice, he’s playing his best, which always helps the team. I think the team is feeling very confident when he’s playing in the net, too. So it’s always nice to see that and to have a goalie like that.”