Let’s start with a little trivia…
Who holds the record for the longest shutout streak in Islanders post-season history?
If you guessed Billy Smith, you would be right as the Hall of Fame goalie and four-time Stanley Cup Champion holds the Islanders record, a mark he set during the 1980 playoffs with a streak of 136 minutes and 59 seconds. But if I was to ask that very same question sometime after 7pm on Wednesday night, the answer could be different.
Semyon Varlamov recorded his second straight shutout making 29 saves as the Islanders beat the Flyers 4-0 on Monday night in game one of the best of seven second round playoff series at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. Varlamov is now all over the Islanders record book as he is the first goalie in Islanders history to shutout the Flyers in the playoffs and he is the first netminder in franchise history to record back to back shutouts.
And if he can keep Philadelphia off the scoreboard for the first 40 seconds of game two on Wednesday afternoon, he’ll pass Billy Smith for the Islanders post-season scoreless streak record.
“We’re playing well defensively,” said Varlamov. “The guys played unbelievable again in front of me. It feels good to get back to back shutouts, but at this point it’s not about shutouts. For me, the most important thing is to get the win and get ready for the next game.”
Game 1: Monday August 24th…Islanders 4 Flyers 0 (Islanders lead 1-0)
Game 2: Wednesday August 26th…Islanders at Flyers…3pm
Game 3: Thursday August 27th…Flyers at Islanders…7pm
Game 4: Saturday August 29th…Flyers at Islanders…Noon
Game 5: Monday August 31st…Islanders at Flyers…TBD (If necessary)
Game 6: Wednesday September 2nd…Flyers at Islanders…TBD (If necessary)
Game 7: Thursday September 3rd…Islanders at Flyers…TBD (If necessary)
Varlamov was brilliant in his 8th win of the playoffs. After outshooting Philadelphia 15-4 in the first period, the Islanders were not very sharp in the second as Varlamov had to make 15 saves to keep it a 1-0 Islanders lead heading to the third.
“Varly stood on his head a few times,” said Islanders Captain Anders Lee who scored a goal in the third period that gave the Islanders a 3-0 lead. “(The Flyers) had a breakaway in the first period and a couple of good chances.”
Islanders defenseman Andy Greene, who scored the first goal of the game in the first period, his first playoff goal in a decade, helped Varlamov out in the first period with a skate save on Flyers right wing Travis Konecny.
“He’s playing fantastic,” said Greene. “He’s making the hard saves look easy and when there are breakdowns, we know he’s there for us and vice versa. We pick each other up back there. We’re trying to let him see the puck there and try to box out or hit sticks. If we can clear the traffic out, he’s going to make the save.”
Varlamov has been a big reason why the Islanders were able to dispose of the Florida Panthers in the qualifying round and why the Isles handled the Washington Capitals in the first round of the playoffs. In round two, he’s picked up where he left off, but Varlamov is keeping things in perspective.
“I feel like I haven’t done anything really special so far,” said Varlamov. “I just play the game.”
If Semyon Varlamov keeps this up, he’s not only going to keep shaking up the Islanders’ playoff record book, but he could wind up being part of something really special come the end of September or beginning of October.