Semyon Varlamov has a night to forget as the islanders fall to Canucks

Islanders coach Barry Kross recently described Semyon Varlamov’s season as “choppy,” and it’s been hard to do much but shake your head.

Varlamov did nothing to refute this Thursday by making 34 saves on 38 shots as the Islanders fell to 20-23-8 in a 4-3 loss to the Canucks at UBS Arena. The Islanders blew away two leads in an all-too-familiar spiral and failed to give the keeper his first win since mid-January.

The second of those blown leads came in the last third of the game. After the Islanders took a 3-2 lead early in the third game, the Canucks began to play with renewed energy. That finally turned into a goal at 9:34 of the third when Nils Hoglander redirected Conor Garland’s pass into the net to an unguarded back post.

Less than a minute later, Varlamov was knocked out of the wrist on his short side by Vasily Podkolzin’s shot, giving the Canucks a lead they didn’t want to give up.

For Varlamov and his teammates, it was yet another troubled game in a season that can only be liberally described as such.

Semyon Varlamov
Semyon Varlamov reacts after giving up a goal.

The moment to best illustrate this came not during the collapse but at 7:19 of the second period when the Islanders led 1-0. Vancouver’s Travis Hamonic seemed to trip Sebastian Aho behind the net, and the Islanders slowed – possibly expecting a whistle – just long enough for Brad Hunt to unleash a slapshot from Varlamov.

The whistle never came and as the Islanders attempted to regroup, the Canucks took a 2-1 lead after JT Miller tapped Brock Boeser’s shot past Varlamov at 11:50.

The Islanders finally bounced back when Kyle Palmieri leveled the game at 6:50 p.m. with a two-point one-timer from Adam Pelech’s feed at 6:50 p.m. – giving them some much-needed momentum.

Matthew Highmore celebrates after Brad Hunt's goal in the second period.
Matthew Highmore celebrates after Brad Hunt’s goal in the second period.

Anthony Beauvillier kept it going early in the third game when he took the puck from Boeser and hit it to put the Islanders 3-2 up, but the momentum didn’t last long.

The game got off to a slow, sloppy start, with the Islanders shooting two penalties and allowing 13 shots in the first half. Both times her penalty handled things easily and in between Varlamov did what was needed in the net. Noah Dobson gave the Isles a 1-0 lead with a one-timer from the point at 3:37 of the second.

At this point, the No. 1 goalkeeper designation of the islanders long claimed by Ilya Sorokin. The question surrounding Varlamov, who is under contract at an average annual value of $5 million through the end of next season, is whether the Islanders will take him to a competitor before the March 21 trade deadline.

The answer will depend in part on how the Islanders play until then, and whether they believe there’s another goaltender in the organization – Cory Schneider and Jakub Skarek are both currently at AHL Bridgeport – who can competently hit back at Sorokin.

If Thursday was an audition of sorts for Varlamov – and that’s how his starts for the next three weeks can be viewed – it wasn’t his best.

Sorokin is undoubtedly the future of the islanders. Whether Varlamov’s future lies with the islanders has yet to be determined. Semyon Varlamov has a night to forget as the islanders fall to Canucks


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