WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) — Semyon Varlamov would not allow his lack of work in the first period detract him from the job at hand.
The Islanders netminder faced only one shot in the first period on his way to a 23-save shutout — his second of the season — to backstop New York to 4-0 victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday afternoon.
“Sometimes, it’s easy, sometimes, it’s very, very hard,” Varlamov said. “It depends on how mentally you prepare for the game. I was very hungry to play today so, for me, it wasn’t very hard to stay sharp.”
He was actually expecting to face a lot more pucks.
“We expected them to jump in right away,” Varlamov said. “They’re a hard team to play against here in their home arena. They always come out really hard and they always play a very strong first period and stuff like that.”
Bo Horvat scored a short-handed goal, and Alexander Romanov, Brock Nelson and Adam Pelech scored for New York.
David Rittich stopped 20 shots for Winnipeg.
“(Varlamov) just stays solid,” Nelson said. “He’s the kind of guy who just goes out there and works hard and never says anything. Even in practice, he’s always solid. He’s a good teammate and to see him go out there and get a shutout — a big one for us — and be a rock for us was huge.”
Horvat’s goal in the first period sparked the Isles.
“The short-handed goal was big, there’s no doubt about it,” said Islanders coach Lane Lambert. “They have a very good power play over there and, to come out of that period with the lead having been short-handed, was helpful for us.”
The Jets fell to 20-10-0 at home this season.
“It just wasn’t good enough,” said Jets defenseman Josh Morrissey. “We need to be better in the first periods, we need to be better off the start, and we can’t be a fragile team right now. I’m not saying that we are, but we certainly can’t fall into that mode.
“We’re an aggressive team. We have to be able to make plays, make passes and not just panic because we’re going through a little bit of a rut.”
The Jets have scored only nine goals in their last six games.
“We all gotta figure it out,” said center Pierre-Luc Dubois. “We’re not playing good hockey right now. But, at the same time, we can turn this around and turn it into a positive.
“We just gotta get going. Time’s running out. There’s not a lot of games left, relatively. But everybody in this room is going to have to talk about it and figure it out.”
With his goal, Nelson set a new career high of 60 points in a season. He now has 16 points in his last 17 games. … Horvat also hit a new career mark with his 62nd point of the campaign. … Newly acquired Jet Nino Niederreiter did not dress for Sunday’s contest against the Islanders. Niederreiter was addressing a visa issue, so the Jets recalled forward Axel Jonsson-Fjallby. … The Isles were missing injured forwards Mathew Barzal (lower body) and Jean-Gabriel Pageau (upper body). Forward Josh Bailey returned to action after missing three games with an upper-body injury. … The Jets had killed all 13 penalties in their last four games heading into Sunday’s game.
Islanders: Play at Minnesota on Tuesday night.
New York Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov (40) and Winnipeg Jets Kevin Stenlund (28) watch the puck as it rebounds after a shot during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Winnipeg, Manitoba, on Sunday, Feb, 26, 2023. (Fred Greenslade/The Canadian Press via AP)